Snuff Memories: Book Review

Snuff Memories is a rather short experimental work of fiction by David Rodin, an academic philosopher working at the Open University. It’s made up of vaguely connected vignettes that read more like a prose poem than a work of fiction.
Like a sort of cut-up Cronenberg, each segment is filled with body horror and imagery of a grim apocalyptic world. Scattered throughout the text are a few beautifully nightmarish aphorisms: “The universe is composed of windowless monads each locked away and screaming.” However, Snuff Memories quickly and frequently goes from vivid nightmare to hazy dream. Rodens highly stylised experimental style renders the majority of the book incomprehensible, rambling, repetitive and unforgivably dull. I’m unsure if the book is supposed to have some kind of underlining philosophy, if it does, it is completely indecipherable.

“As I drove home from the film studios at Shepperton on a rain-swept June evening, my car skidded at the intersection below the entrance of the Western Avenue flyover. Within seconds I was moving at sixty miles an hour into the oncoming lane. As the car struck the central reservation the off-side tyre blew out and whirled off its rim. Out of my control, the car crossed the reservation and turned up the high-speed exit ramp. Three vehicles were approaching, mass-produced saloon cars whose exact model-year, colour schemes and external accessories I can still remember with the painful accuracy of a never-to-be eluded nightmare. The first two I missed, pumping the breaks and barely managing to steer my car between them. The third, carrying a young woman doctor and her husband, I struck head-on. The man, a chemical engineer with an American foodstuff company, was killed instantly, propelled through his windscreen like a mattress from the barrel of a circus cannon. He died on the bonnet of my car, his blood sprayed through the fractured windscreen across my face and chest. The fireman who later cut me out from the crushed cabin of my car assumed that I was bleeding to death from a massive open-heart wound.”
J.G. Ballard, Crash!

2019