By J.G. Ballard
Over a decade old and yet more relevant than ever, Super-Cannes is a state of mind. The air-conditioned, steel-and-glass structure of modern corporate existence: glossy and efficient on the surface but just as ugly and muddy as a medieval fiefdom underneath. The banking crisis and the bastards it is still producing are combining with the corporate media scandal unearthed by the Guardian and the Leveson inquiry to show just how grubby people in high places can be.
And yet Ballard was there in 2000, when he published this prescient and disturbing thriller. Set on a business park on the French Riviera, Super-Cannes follows Paul Sinclair as he relocates with his wife as she takes up a post of doctor to the corporate bosses. Several months previously, her predecessor had embarked on a rampage, gunning down friends and colleagues and finally himself. The book turns on the fact that Sinclair smells a rat, and investigates.
His searching takes him into the underbelly of this strange, chromium community and hints at wider corporate corruption. Of course, Ballard’s style is spot on. He has written a noir, set under the glaring light of a modern office. The depravity of his baddies and the ennui of this awful corporate existence echo Bret Easton Ellis.
But of course Ballard is no pretender. This is an original and tightly controlled novel raising questions about the ceaseless reach of capitalism, questions that are becoming more imperative every day. As one character observes, “The people here have gone beyond God. Way beyond. God had to rest on the seventh day.”