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Xavier West
09-20-2006, 10:50 PM
Feeling a lot of love round these parts for Mr Ballard recently and figured it was about time he had a thread of his own.

Not too sure where I stand on his work. Probably I need to read more but he definitely interests me. Crash was great. The Atrocity Exhibition is perfect stuff to get the brain running- although sometimes I feel that during these early days Ballard and Burroughs were just writing books for each other. The influence from one to the other is undeniable.

Recently though I've found him frustrating. I read High Rise, Running Wild, Super Cannes and Millenium People one on top of the other and the similarity between them is dispiriting. Like a lot of "transgressive" writers he seems to be now stuck with the one theme: the proles rising up and throwing off the shackles of their too comfortable exsistence.

At the moment he's at the bottom of my reading list but I'd be interested to hear if people think there are other essential works.

Aaron G
09-20-2006, 11:12 PM
THE DROUGHT - the prose is a bit dry, but a good story
CONCRETE ISLAND - another killer, kinda like a novel Antonioni woulda written!

I agree with you about his recent novels. He's become another fucken shitful trangressive hack like Palahnishnook, Irine Welsh, and Houlbecq to some degree - they all just circle-jerk each other with the Marxist/Freudian paradigm zzzzzz. Always amazes me how these guys all seem to have books come out at the SAME TIME and they're all as dull as each other. I like SUPER CANNES the best of Ballard's recent books.

Check out the ATROCITY EXHIBITION movie if you can. It is most excellent and under-rated, and is as good, if not better an adaptation than CRASH!

Randy Thomas G
09-21-2006, 12:18 AM
His early sf short stories are remarkable and may be where his major achievements as a writer lay: either THE BEST OF... or TERMINAL BEACH are good places to start.

Two of his early 'disaster' novels are really great: THE DROWNING WORLD and THE CRYSTAL WORLD. THE UNLIMITED DREAM COMPANY sort of fits your description of HIGH RISE (which I really liked), etc but is much more optimistic and different in tone.

Ballard's collection of essays A USER'S GUIDE TO THE MILLENIUM is also really good for anyone interested in what interests Ballard and it gives a lot of indirect insight into his writing.

I'd say that Ballard is certainly an obsessional writer, without a lot of 'range' in the traditional sense, but he is a first class writer with a unique, personal vision.

Shaun C
09-21-2006, 05:57 PM
I was looking through his books today in Borders, and am interested in getting some. The Crystal World seemed intersting with what sounded like an original idea of a forest turning into crystals and jewells. There is also two compilations of all his short stories. What are his best books and where should I start. Thanks.

Sergio Olivari
09-22-2006, 01:01 PM
i most definitely agree in that ballard has become yet another cheap shock value dealer for mainstream audiences who never read his truly originals, High Rise, Drowned World, Concrete Island, and Crash of course- i tried SuperCannes but it really felt like Houellebecq -you nailed the connection Aaron!

Eugene Coyne
09-22-2006, 01:13 PM
There was an hour-long documentary last Sunday here in the UK on The South Bank Show, featuring J G in one-to-one conversation with Melvyn Bragg, and contributions from Will Self, Martin Amis....