This is someone who really is a grand master of the imagination. Yes, he does have black humour, and yes he very much enjoys pulling the legs of the bourgeoisie, he likes to make harsh jokes at the expense of power figures, and he’s really a clinician of the psychopathology of everyday life. (…)
Burroughs and his friends and the beatnik movement had a tremendous casualty list, whereas Ballard and his friends in the British New Wave movement and the Pop Art scene were actually fairly solid, well-balanced if unconventional individuals – people with jobs and children, they were not reedy figures. This is a towering oak tree of a writer, who wrote many volumes of consistently good, accomplished work. (…)
Well, I wouldn’t call Crash a jolly book by any means. It’s a very sinister work which is well informed by a deep understanding of human psychopathology. In some ways, it’s like expecting a medical textbook to be optimistic. If you read a medical textbook, it’s usually a long list of terrible things that can go wrong with people. By the time you reach the end of a medical textbook, you’re looking at yourself for symptoms – is it my liver, could it be my eyeballs?
I don’t think that work in itself is a happy work, but when you put it down the sense of escaping that world gives you a strange uplifted feeling. It’s like being subjected to a really violent massage, something on the edge of pain, and when it stops you have this sense of achievement and joy. It’s like, what’s the worst thing that can happen to me during the rest of my life? Will I be involved in a sexual cult involving crashed automobiles? Probably not, you know, and that’s another reason to go on.