Becca Rothfeld at The New Republic:
One of the great secrets of modern life is that we don’t actually want what we want. Instead, we want to go on wanting, luxuriating in our deprivation. The British novelist J.G. Ballard, a lifelong foe of gratified desire, predicted our predicament with eerie prescience. In two essential novels reissued by Picador, the exquisitely grotesque Crash (1973) and the eerily civilized Super-Cannes (2000), Ballard warns against the lures of easy satisfaction.
Reviewers have often called Ballard’s dystopian visions “prophetic”: He foresaw self-driving cars, Uber-style ridesharing, and the lavish corporate campuses where life and labor blur into one another. But perhaps his canniest forecast was that comfort would prove so lethally uncomfortable. “Suburbs,” he reflected in an interview in the Paris Review,
are far more sinister places than most city dwellers imagine. Their very blandness forces the imagination into new areas. I mean, one’s got to get up in the morning thinking of a deviant act, merely to make certain of one’s freedom. It needn’t be much; kicking the dog will do.
Super-Cannes is set in such a suburb: Eden-Olympia is a corporate park on the outskirts of Cannes in “Europe’s silicon valley.”