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28 November 2006 @ 12:46 pm
Empire of the Sun, J.G. Ballard  
I've been reading Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard. I knew it was a good story because I'd seen and loved the film, but I am constantly in awe of how beautifully it is written.

If you're not familiar, it's about an English boy who was born in Shanghai. In 1941, When Shanghai is overcome by the Japanese, the boy, Jim, is separated from his parents. In this excerpt he has been in an internment camp for three years. Jim likes aviation above all things, and even though he suffers from malnutrition and has lost his parents and seen so much destruction and death, he is excited by the war. Jim's imagination is often dizzying.

Jim closed his eyes to calm his mind, but the sentry barked ar him, suspecting that Jim was about to play some private game of which Sargeant Nagata would disapprove. The memory of the air raid excited Jim. The Mustangs still streaked across the camp on their way to attack the flak tower. Jim imagined himself at the control of one of the fighters, falling to earth when his plane exploded, rising again as one of the childlike kamikaze pilots who cheered the Emperor before hurling their Zeros into the American carriers at Okinawa. One day Jim would become a wounded pilot, fallen among the burial mounds and armored pagodas. Pieces of his flying suit and parachute, perhaps even of his own body, would spread across the paddy fields, feeding the prisoners behind their wire and the Chinese starving at the gate...

"Jim!" Mrs. Phillips hissed. "Practice your Latin...."

Forcing himself not to blink, to the irritation of the Japanese sentry, Jim stared into the sunlight outside the dispensary window. The silent landscape seemed to seethe with flames, the halo born form the burning body of the American pilot. The light touched the rusting wire of the perimeter fence and the dusty fronds of the wild sugarcane, bleached the wings of the derelict aircraft and the bones of the peasants in the burial mounds. Jim longed for the next air raid, dreaming of the violent light, barely able to breathe for the hunger that Dr. Ransome had recognized but could never feed.
 
 
 
itsmepeaceitsmepeace on November 29th, 2006 02:11 am (UTC)
i cried during this movie, and the book has to be amazing, i can only imagine
The Rev: stephenthe_reverand on November 29th, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC)
It is quite amazing. And there is a sequel, too, which follows Jim through school, some training with the RAF, and even as a much older man watching a film based on his experiences! oO