21 July 2010

Crash (not the film that I already know is shitty, the other one)

I've just finished J.G. Ballard's Crash, which has to be the smuttiest book I've ever read primarily in a work breakroom (all apologies to James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime). I wondered if anyone preparing their Lean Cuisines took note of what I was reading with the Grinch's smile on my face.

My main point of entry for the novel is that, since my first accident at age 17, I've imagined, to the point of distraction, crashing my car and being maimed in the wreckage each time I get behind the wheel. If I'd only added a total conflation between the collision and the moment of orgasm, I'd be close to the mindset of the novel's main characters: the proto-reality TV goons Ballard (errr...) and Vaughan. There are so many mechanical and mammalian juices in this book that it's practically damp in your hands.

To pick my favorite of the dozens and dozens of repetitive, but somehow always new, descriptions of the crash/orgasm juncture:

"I remember my first minor collision in a deserted hotel car-park. Disturbed by a police patrol, we had forced ourselves through a hurried sex-act. Reversing out of the park, I struck an unmarked tree. Catherine vomited over my seat. This pool of vomit with its clots of blood like liquid rubies, as viscous and discreet as everything produced by Catherine, still contains for me the essence of the erotic delirium of the car-crash, more exciting than her own rectal and vaginal mucus, as refined as the excrement of a fairy queen, or the minuscule globes of liquid that formed beside the bubbles of her contact lenses."

Obscenely beautiful how Ballard accelerates into these complex sentences of grotesque passion. You can't read this book and think of car interiors the same way. If I ever see a sedan with "mustard leatherette" upholstery, like that in the main vehicle Vaughan drives, I'll be unable to sit down on it.

While we get many iterations of straight sex in many iterations of back seats (wait for the jaw-dropping car wash sequence in particular), the climax of the climaxes in Crash is between Ballard and Vaughan. I credit the author for making good on the homoerotic tension he built for 200 pages. Ballard and Vaughan are the only two characters who, by any stretch of the imagination, love each other as they fuck.

There's also a good deal of wishful starfucking throughout the book--Vaughan's endgame is to die in a crash that also kills Elizabeth Taylor. So it's natural that they made a movie of it (though my mother will be sad to know it's without a racist Sandy Bullock).

At first I was horrified by the excesses of the trailer, then I realized it appears to be a straightforward depiction of events in the book. I'm still too scared to rent the film (mostly because James Spader is in the lead role) but I look forward to my next adventure in Ballard's prose.

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