The Inner Man: The Life of J.G. Ballard

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Ballard happily discoursed on two crises in his life. The first was his boyhood imprisonment in the camp at Lunghua, the experiences of which went to make Empire of the Sun. The second, which he was always ready to talk about, was the sudden death of his young wife, Mary, when they were on holiday in Spain in Ballard buried her there, and had to drive back home with three young children.

The Inner Man: The Life of JG Ballard

The experience of Lunghua fed not only into Empire of the Sun but those extraordinary tales of survival and inhumanity, High Rise and Island. When London was floooded. Martin Amis: the novelist life.


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The Michel Houellebecq Phenomenon. His particular circumstances, of prison camp, medical studies, bereavement, small avant-garde or pulp publications, are very unlikely to recur.

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Ballard, always clear-sighted, understood how his work emerged from his circumstances, and about its purposes. What is left for a biographer to do? Indications that Ballard physically abused his partner, Claire Walsh, are present but not explored further. The Inner Man is mistitled, and Ballard remains just as public, just as hidden, as he wanted to be in his lifetime.

Ballard traced a nearly unique trajectory, from pulp sci fi fanzines of the most lurid variety into experimentalism.

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All this is richly enjoyable. Because of him, the term "inner space" and phrases like "the only alien planet is Earth" passed into the language.


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So did the adjective "Ballardian" - "resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Ballard's novels and stories, esp. With the help of the few people whom he admitted to his often hermit-like existence, it illuminates the troubled reality behind the urbane and amiable facade of a man who was proud to describe himself as "psychopathic. Ballard in the '60s, and in the same science fiction magazines.

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As it happens I knew both men at this time, but did not see them together on any occasion. Whenever I saw Ballard alone he never once acted in the outrageous ways Baxter claims.

Book Review: The Inner Man: The Life of J.G. Ballard, by John Baxter | National Post

On the contrary, he always appeared quiet, thoughtful and socially ill at ease. One should weigh in the balance every word of his gossipy memoirs, which is something John Baxter clearly has not done. First-name terms should be reserved to family and genuine friends.

Although there are at the back of the book a few pages of acknowledgements, and a long list of sources, none of these is cross-referenced to the quotes. How did the publisher allow Baxter to quote so much copyright material without direct acknowledgement or apparently permission? There is no Contents page.