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Vaguely on the Run

Sam Gilpin: J.G. Ballard, 16 November 2000

by J.G. Ballard.
Flamingo, 392 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 00 225847 1
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... newly named Antibes-les-Pins, will arise the first “intelligent city” of the Riviera,’ J.G. Ballard wrote in ‘Under the Voyeur’s Gaze’, an essay that appears in A User’s Guide to the Millennium, a collection of his journalism. He went on: The ten thousand inhabitants in their high-tech apartments and offices will serve as an ‘ideas ...

Whisky and Soda Man

Thomas Jones: J.G. Ballard, 10 April 2008

Miracles of Life: Shanghai to Shepperton – An Autobiography 
by J.G. Ballard.
Fourth Estate, 278 pp., £14.99, February 2008, 978 0 00 727072 9
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... When I was 12, I read a story by J.G. Ballard about a boy who has lived all his life in a vast city. One day, he decides to take a train out of the metropolis, to find a wide open space where he can fly a kite. But after many days on the train, he starts to recognise landmarks from the window that he has seen earlier in the journey: he has travelled all the way around the world without leaving the city ...

Unlucky Jim

Julian Symons, 10 October 1991

The Kindness of Women 
by J.G. Ballard.
HarperCollins, 286 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 00 223771 7
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... in the subject-matter will have become familiarly known, something particularly relevant to J.G. Ballard's Empire of the Sun, which fascinated some of its early readers and reviewers because it was based on the writer's childhood experiences while interned in Shanghai during World War Two.* And in the case of this book the wave of indignation when it failed ...

The Great Exhibition

John Sutherland, 6 September 1984

Empire of the Sun 
by J.G. Ballard.
Gollancz, 287 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 575 03483 1
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Enterprise Red Star 
by Alexander Bogdanov, translated by Charles Rongle, edited by Loren Graham and Richard Stites.
Indiana, 266 pp., $22.50, June 1984, 0 253 17350 7
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Hotel du Lac 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 184 pp., £7.95, September 1984, 0 224 02238 5
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Conversations in Another Room 
by Gabriel Josipovici.
Methuen, 121 pp., £7.95, August 1984, 0 413 55930 0
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An Affair on the Appian Way 
by Michael Levey.
Hamish Hamilton, 219 pp., £8.95, August 1984, 0 241 11315 6
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... of Shanghai, and his subsequent internment in Lunghua airfield camp, outside the city. James Ballard’s narrative, pitched ambiguously between autobiography and fiction, records the lost childhood of a lad variously nicknamed Jim and Jamie. (As far as I can see, the surname is never given – but it’s not hard to supply: J.G. ...

World’s End

John Sutherland, 1 October 1987

The Day of Creation 
by J.G. Ballard.
Gollancz, 254 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 575 04152 8
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The Playmaker 
by Thomas Keneally.
Hodder, 310 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 340 34154 8
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In the Skin of a Lion 
by Michael Ondaatje.
Secker, 244 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 436 34009 7
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The House of Hospitalities 
by Emma Tennant.
Viking, 184 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 670 81501 2
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... After the autobiographical candour of Empire of the Sun, J.G. Ballard returns to his familiar austere impersonality with The Day of Creation. Superficially, this latest terminal vision recalls the doomed worlds of the author’s earlier Science Fiction, and at some points seems a close reworking of The Drought (1965 ...

Pods and Peds

Caroline Maclean: Iain Sinclair, 18 November 2004

Dining on Stones, or, The Middle Ground 
by Iain Sinclair.
Hamish Hamilton, 449 pp., £16.99, April 2004, 0 241 14236 9
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... Sinclair divides authors into ‘pods’ and ‘peds’, writers in cars and writers on foot. J.G. Ballard is a ‘pod-meister. Suburban solipsism: world in a windscreen’; W.G. Sebald is a ped who loses himself ‘in the rhythms of the walk’. Sinclair is a ped with pod-envy: he can’t stop hanging around motorways. Dining on Stones indulges in narrative ...

At the Gagosian

Peter Campbell: ‘Crash’, 11 March 2010

... Dan Holdsworth, ‘Untitled (Autopia)’, 1998 Crash, a homage to J.G. Ballard (it takes its name from his 1973 novel), runs at the Gagosian Gallery until 1 April. Work by 52 artists starts in the lobby with a 3.5-metre-wide photograph of a Boeing 747’s undercarriage – part of Adam McEwen’s Honda Teen Facial ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: How to Type like a Man, 10 May 2007

... William Burroughs, David Cronenberg, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, J.G. Ballard and Hunter S. Thompson: in other words, men. He says more than once that he’s less interested in typewriters as machines (once upon a time the word also referred to the people, usually women, who used the machines) than in typewriting as discourse. But ...

At the Guggenheim

Hal Foster: Pop Surrealism, 18 December 2003

... could paint the myth yet point to its failure, and do so in the original moment. Like J.G. Ballard in the 1960s, Rosenquist was a Pop Surrealist: he addresses the Pop themes of consumer society by means of a Surrealist form of painted collage that recalls Freudian dream-work, but a dream-work now let loose in the world. Adapted to a grand scale (in the ...

At the Duveen Galleries

Brian Dillon: ‘The Asset Strippers’, 18 July 2019

... in his work, informed by the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, the fiction of Stanisław Lem and J.G. Ballard. Take his installation The Coral Reef, which won him a Turner Prize nomination in 2001: the visitor had to navigate a claustral labyrinth of 15 more or less grotty and unsettling rooms, meticulously set-dressed as minicab office, drug den, waiting ...

Writing Machines

Tom McCarthy: On Realism and the Real, 18 December 2014

... In the introduction​ to the 1995 reissue of his 1973 masterpiece Crash, J.G. Ballard discusses ‘the balance between fiction and reality’. ‘We live,’ he writes, in a world ruled by fictions of every kind – mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the pre-empting of any original response to experience by the television screen ...

Family Romances

Anthony Thwaite, 2 February 1989

A Little Stranger 
by Candia McWilliam.
Bloomsbury, 135 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 9780747502791
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Running wild 
by J.G. Ballard.
Hutchinson, 72 pp., £5.95, November 1988, 0 09 173498 3
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Breathing Lessons 
by Anne Tyler.
Chatto, 327 pp., £11.95, January 1989, 0 7011 3391 0
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... the Land of Plenty is gruesomely multiplied and more than matched in forensic analysis in J.G. Ballard’s novella Running wild. The land here isn’t rich rural but the elegant Berkshire outer suburbia of Pangbourne Village, a rus in urbe constructed for the new rich of the Eighties. On a June morning in 1988, the 32 adults who live there are murdered in ...


Susannah Clapp: On Angela Carter, 12 March 1992

... Literature, which featured only writers born before 1939. She wrote feelingly in 1984 about J.G. Ballard, who was, she rightly predicted, about to be turned by critics from an SF cult figure into a main-stream literary person: ‘Ballard is rarely, if ever, mentioned in the same breath, or even the same paragraph, as such ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman, 19 March 1998

Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... these promoters of the Penman in Hollywood fable, Michael Moorcock’s minatory letters to J.G. Ballard, the grind of lost years and aborted projects.) So, obviously, when I met Penman, this Schrader yarn was the one I put to him. Why did he come back? Where did it all go wrong? The truth was less romantic. Penman had, it’s true, vanished for a ...


Iain Sinclair: The Thames, 25 June 2009

Thames: Sacred River 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Vintage, 608 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 09 942255 6
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... Intimations of psychotic breakdown, financial and ecological catastrophe, located by J.G. Ballard in the hermetic towers of High-Rise (1975), were limned by Ackroyd, with characteristic generosity, as the first green shoots of recovery for a toxic wasteland. Ballard’s dog-eating balcony-dwellers inhabit a ...

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