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Writer: JG Ballard

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The great JG Ballard

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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby Eugenius on Thu May 24, 2012 4:46 pm

cjh wrote:His famously unprepossessing suburban lair, 36 Old Charlton Road, Shepperton, (yellow door and the only property in the road with the original Crittal windows, he famously didn't touch a spec of dust in almost fifty years of living there). The photo is a few years old, that's his ancient Ford Granada.


When I was a kid I went camping several times in Chertsey Meads less than two miles from that address. I had no idea, until this moment, that Ballard lived there.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby rappard on Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:36 am

Robert Bork wrote:[S]ome of the worst rappers are white, like Nine Inch Nails.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby jimmy spako on Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:18 am

Forever not crap for Vermillion Sands.

I am almost done with Supercannes and have High-Rise on deck.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby arrowhead on Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:27 pm

Characters better than typical sci-fi characters (David Foster Wallace actually more accurately called Ballard's literary milieu psy-fi), but run way flat as compared to writers who meaningfully develop characters, which I would argue Ballard does not. His narrators are almost always stand-ins for himself, which I suppose is to be expected with writers use their obsessions to drive narratives (of which Ballard is an extreme example), and plot, action, setting, and philosophical ideas are the other main drivers, not character.

He also consistently suffers the defect of having his narrators explain the significance of his novels/stories, robbing readers of the experience of "unpacking" his work. Again, DFW writes of his "lead-footed intrusions": "His narrators pontificate constantly, declaiming on the meaning of symbols, the irony of twists, the significance of everything even remotely significant." That's exactly right.

But in no universe could Ballard be considered crap. He is one of the most imaginative and original writers of the 20th century. You can't find a Ballard analog prior to Ballard. This is the kind of trait any writer/band/director/other artist should be after, and it's a short list of writers who achieved it to the degree Ballard did. This, I believe, is testament to his powerful imagination and fearless willingness to lobotomize himself and probe his obsessions.

Like the others here, I think Crash, High-Rise, and Concrete Island are his best novels. But he was even better at the short story, a medium which played to his strength of imagination and didn't allow him as much space to wear you down with his defects.

I like a whole bunch, but the short story collection War Fever - which I haven't seen mentioned here - is consistently excellent.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby Neuloveyou on Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:45 pm

I like the lead-footed intrusions, it's part of the main character type, for example in The Kindness of Women (which is my favourite of his books currently), of a man approaching some kind of revelatory process while undergoing a katabtic sort of fall. I think character in Ballard is always linked to his basic style which is a kind-of-clunky prose breached by imagistic/visionary incursions.

But then I generally don't care that much about ideas of character on writing.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby Me Again on Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:10 am

Just finished Super-Cannes. A superb but very troubling novel. When Dr. Penrose laid all of his cards on the table about 4/5 of the way through, I had to go for a bike ride in the cool night air to shake off the disturbing feeling. Had read between the lines and had an idea of what was really going on at Eden-Olympia, but when it was all spelled out and rationalized as psychotherapy I honestly felt kind of depressed. Still a fine book though! A psychology major minoring in literature could have a field day with it.

The Drowned World is also great.

That's all I've read so far.

J.G. Ballard = easy Not Crap
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby goatlord on Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:39 am

I think that JG Ballard is not a perfect writer, but he is a great writer. I think that a great writer is the one that can show you the way he looks at the world and, while he does it, you don't pay attention to his flaws.

And boy, did JG Ballard had flaws! Overly explained metaphors (in fact, metaphors every-fucking-where!), cardboard characters, clunky dialogue, buried misoginy (Well, I don't know if the word is misoginy... but every female character is more of a straw-women for his fetishes than a human being)... but, you know, who is better at writting that "ballard-feel" than Ballard himself? When I want to read pristine, surrealist, clean, alien and weird stuff, I read Ballard, it's your best choice! I'm not always in the mood for a Ballard fest, but when it hits, it hits. And, as I said, when I'm reading his stuff all his flaws don't really come to mind, only when I search for those or I really think about them afterwards.

Also, he is the ultimate idea writter. All his books are so fucking full of ideas that they can drown you in them!

Ballard, NC.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby Me Again on Wed Nov 29, 2017 5:40 pm

There is definitely an expository thread coursing through a novel like Super-Cannes, but I feel it's carefully arranged so as to be suspenseful and keep the reader from knowing how exactly all of the pieces are going to fit together up until the very end. And his books still retain some enigmatic qualities, even after everything has been laid out.

For instance *spoilers for his second novel*: In The Drowned World the dots are never fully connected as to why Kerans decides to head south in the end. He knows he's going die if he does, and that he'll eventually be without food and supplies (and his lover Beatrice), he knows he'll be in extreme discomfort. And yet somehow meeting his maker on his own terms, alone, in unbearably hot and wet weather, is preferable to heading north with what's left of civilization, playing it safe, and keeping up appearances. Ballard never completely explains why Kerans does this. We're left assuming (but never being told or fully knowing) that somehow this is his way of being free. He seems to feel that going it alone and running headfirst into his own death is better than carrying on the charade that humanity has a future worth living for. I find this futile southbound trek an enduring image.
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