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Superhistory

Patrick Parrinder, 6 December 1990

Curfew 
by Jose Donoso, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Picador, 310 pp., £13.95, October 1990, 0 330 31157 3
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War Fever 
by J.G. Ballard.
Collins, 176 pp., £12.95, November 1990, 0 00 223770 9
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Great Climate 
by Michael Wilding.
Faber, 147 pp., £12.99, November 1990, 0 571 14428 4
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Honour Thy Father 
by Lesley Glaister.
Secker, 182 pp., £13.99, September 1990, 9780436199981
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... fear and corruption and many unpleasant things, but his novel remains an enchanted space. J.G. Ballard’s fiction maps a very different historical frontier. His last collection of short stories was Myths of the Near Future (1982), and in several pieces in this new collection he again takes up his favourite stance as a historian of the late 1990s and the ...

Champion of Hide and Seek

Amit Chaudhuri: Raj Kamal Jha, 16 December 2004

If You Are Afraid of Heights 
by Raj Kamal Jha.
Picador, 304 pp., £7.99, July 2004, 0 330 49327 2
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... with magic realist euphoria, however, but have a compelling ordinariness. The phrase that J.G. Ballard uses to distinguish Dalí’s work from that of other Surrealist painters – ‘hallucinatory naturalism’ – is also apposite to Jha’s writing in this book. ‘For the most part,’ Ballard says, ‘the landscapes ...

Yesterday

Frank Kermode, 27 July 1989

The Pleasures of Peace: Art and Imagination in Post-War Britain 
by Bryan Appleyard.
Faber, 367 pp., £12.99, June 1989, 0 571 13722 9
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... else that is going on, however sour. Appleyard also has good words for Michael Moorcock and J.G. Ballard, for Peter Greenaway’s The Draughtsman’s Contract and Denis Potter’s The Singing Detective, as well as for Richard Rogers and Will Allsop – indeed for all who demonstrate what is rather vaguely called ‘the real, unfettered play of ...

Every Rusty Hint

Ian Sansom: Anthony Powell, 21 October 2004

Anthony Powell: A Life 
by Michael Barber.
Duckworth, 338 pp., £20, July 2004, 0 7156 3049 0
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... As for his readers, Powell can hardly be blamed for his plummy fans any more than, say, J.G. Ballard should be blamed for the flakiness of his, or Anne Tyler for the limpness of hers. As for the books, they speak for themselves. Edmund Wilson once remarked of Powell that ‘he’s just entertaining enough to read in bed late at night in summer.’ This ...

‘Don’t scum me out!’

Scott Hames: Alan Warner, 28 April 2011

The Stars in the Bright Sky 
by Alan Warner.
Vintage, 394 pp., £7.99, May 2011, 978 0 09 946182 1
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... Airports,’ J.G. Ballard noted, ‘seem to be almost the only form of public architecture free from the pressures of kitsch or nostalgia. As far as I know, there are no half-timbered terminal buildings or pebble-dashed control towers.’ Alan Warner isn’t a novelist you’d expect to be much interested in the departures hall, being best known for a sort of wild provincial fabulism ...

Flying the flag

Patrick Parrinder, 18 November 1993

The Modern British Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 512 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 436 20132 1
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After the War: The Novel and English Society since 1945 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 310 pp., £17.99, September 1993, 9780701137694
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... are not mutually exclusive, he said – as if to clinch the argument – ‘Look at J.G. Ballard.’ But in neither of his books has he stopped to look at Ballard, or any novelist like him. Ballard takes an original view of English society in some of his books, and could also ...

Arty Party

Hal Foster: From the ‘society of spectacle’ to the ‘society of extras’, 4 December 2003

Relational Aesthetics 
by Nicolas Bourriaud, translated by Matthew Copeland.
Les Presses du réel, 128 pp., €9, March 2002, 2 84066 060 1
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Postproduction 
by Nicolas Bourriaud, translated by Jeanine Herman.
Lukas and Sternberg, 88 pp., $19, October 2001, 0 9711193 0 9
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Interviews: Volume I 
by Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Charta, 967 pp., $60, June 2003, 9788881584314
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... is diffuse, with nearly a thousand pages of conversation with figures such as Jean Rouch and J.G. Ballard as well as the artists in question – and this is only Volume I. (Ballard lets fly with a sharp aperçu: ‘The psychological test is the only function of today’s art shows,’ he says with the Young British Artists ...

Kill the tuna can

Christopher Tayler: George Saunders, 8 June 2006

The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil and In Persuasion Nation 
by George Saunders.
Bloomsbury, 358 pp., £10.99, June 2006, 0 7475 8221 1
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... underclass of mutants. But Saunders’s writing doesn’t have much else in common with J.G. Ballard-style dystopianism; nor do you sense that he spends a lot of time reading Baudrillard. The busy satirical backgrounds of the stories don’t dominate the action, which frequently centres on a morally conflicted, low-level corporate drone. Though complicit ...

In Hackney

Iain Sinclair: Steve Dilworth, 15 November 2001

... All the elements were in meltdown: Victorian asylums as Legoland estates; the M25 muse, J.G. Ballard, in Shepperton; Dracula’s Purfleet abbey reinvented by Esso as the centre of another kind of distribution (oil for blood). I suspected that Dilworth’s project would bend away from the purity of the original vision. That’s what always happens when ...

The Frowniest Spot on Earth

Will Self: Life in the Aerotropolis, 28 April 2011

Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next 
by John Kasarda and Greg Lindsay.
Allen Lane, 480 pp., £14.99, March 2011, 978 1 84614 100 3
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... any more convincing you’ve only to read the frontispiece quote, which is from an essay J.G. Ballard wrote for Blueprint in 1997: I suspect that the airport will be the true city of the 21st century. The great airports are already the suburbs of an invisible world capital, a virtual metropolis whose faubourgs are named Heathrow, Kennedy, Charles de ...

Heads and Hearts

Patrick Parrinder, 28 May 1992

Underworld 
by Peter Conrad.
Chatto, 252 pp., £14.99, April 1992, 0 7011 3895 5
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A Case of Curiosities 
by Allen Kurzweil.
Hamish Hamilton, 358 pp., £14.99, March 1992, 0 241 13235 5
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Rotten Times 
by Paul Micou.
Bantam, 266 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 593 02621 7
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The Republic of Love 
by Carol Shields.
Fourth Estate, 366 pp., £14.99, March 1992, 1 872180 88 4
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... of raw emotions and visionary perceptions, set in a bleak cityscape strongly reminiscent of J.G. Ballard. The city is divided between the respectable inhabitants of plate-glass tower blocks and a vengeful underclass, who live in the derelict buildings of an undeveloped valley. The middle classes’ only contact with the valley is to drive through it, at some ...

Howl

Adam Mars-Jones, 21 September 1995

Fullalove 
by Gordon Burn.
Secker, 231 pp., £14.99, August 1995, 0 436 20059 7
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... clear that Gordon Burn and Fullalove aspire to the extremity represented by the best of J.G. Ballard or Derek Raymond, by a Crash or an I Was Dora Suarez. Both of these books retain some residual claim to realism, but work by isolating a lurid element in the world and expanding it almost infinitely. Fullalove tries the same trick, but there is a curious ...

Absolutely Bleedin’ Obvious

Ian Sansom: Will Self, 6 July 2006

The Book of Dave 
by Will Self.
Viking, 496 pp., £17.99, June 2006, 0 670 91443 6
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... Reading Self is often reminiscent not of William Burroughs, as Self himself might wish, or of J.G. Ballard, whom Self obviously admires and seeks to emulate (clear echoes in The Book of Dave of The Drowned World), but rather of Norman Mailer, particularly the vainglorious, dick-swinging Mailer of ‘The White Negro’ (1956): there is the same priapism, the ...

Diary

Will Self: My Typewriters, 5 March 2015

... delicious, steam-punky 1930s machine), went to her grave in 2010, preceded a year earlier by J.G. Ballard, the last writer I’d known personally – besides myself – who took his books all the way to typesetting as manually generated typescripts. One of the last services I performed for Jim was to obtain a ribbon for his 1970s Olympia; after his death, his ...

What to Wear to School

Jeremy Harding: Marianne gets rid of the veil, 19 February 2004

... life – but in France this artsy, edgy quality, whose English equivalent is so well loved by J.G. Ballard and Hanif Kureishi, is rapidly giving way to a vision of despair, incivility and lawlessness on housing estates. Sarkozy needs to point these elements up in order to strengthen his appeal, but a man who needs the banlieues, where so many of France’s ...

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