Kingdom Come by J.G. Ballard (2006)

Kingdom Come

Kingdom Come is the new novel by the master, J.G. Ballard. The format is familiar, a three part story of a man who encounters the violent tendencies underlying seemingly placid modern life. This time the story centers around a giant shopping mall called the Metro-Centre, out in the suburbs of London near Heathrow Airport. Richard Pearson is a suddenly out-of-work advertising man whose father is shot at the mall, so he goes out to deal with the estate, and investigate the life and death of his father.

This protagonist seems mostly confused about his role in the burgeoning violence that Ballard associates with the shoppers. Pearson helps design a new, morally ambiguous campaign for the Metro-Centre, while seeing that the unhinged are taking out their frustrations on innocent minorities. The usual Ballardian ‘hero’ gets more of a lift from the sudden new possibilities that arise as society breaks down, but Pearson seems obsessed with the new mall society in a fairly negative way. Seems to me that this book is a bit of a re-hash. Of his recent novels I felt Super Cannes was the strongest.

Here’s a review from M. John Harrison, who sees Ballard as having fallen behind the times, caught in his own visions.

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