readingtrance

book reviews by Althea

Hello America – J.G. Ballard **

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This month’s post-apocalyptic book club selection.

Well, Ballard sure did like to write this story. He wrote it a few times.

Since I most recently read his ‘Drowned World,’ (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…) I noticed that it was essentially the same book as that one, but I think he’s written it a few more times as well.

However, ‘Hello, America’ almost reads like a satire of ‘Drowned World.’ Was it intended to be? I’m not sure.

An expedition reaches the eastern shore of a long-abandoned United States. Ostensibly, they’re there for research purposes, but they barely make a nod toward their cause. Instead, they each are subsumed by the dream of the long-dead myth of America, and head West through devastated landscapes, encountering absurdist tribal population remnants, and finding a man who calls himself President (and also calls himself Manson).

The satire (if it was intended as such) didn’t work for me – I felt that it actually undercut a lot of what is usually so effective about Ballard’s writing. The characterization is even sketchier than Ballard’s usual, and the sexism is over the top.

There were a few memorable moments, and even a few chuckles, but I wouldn’t call this one of Ballard’s best

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