11.5.11

J. G. Ballard: The Inner Man

John Baxter's new book explores the life of the influential writer
John Baxter, The Inner Man: The Life of J. G. Ballard (W&N, 2011)
Ballardian has very usefully pointed me in the direction of a new book from John Baxter. Entitled The Inner Man: The Life of J. G. Ballard (W&N, 2011), the book details the way twentieth century history and culture influenced the late writer, and, in turn, how the writer's work impacted upon that culture. (Reviews of the book have been rather negative, pointing to errors and omissions in its research, and an active dislike of its subject.) The following is taken from the book's product description on amazon.co.uk:
To many people, J.G. Ballard will always be the schoolboy in Steven Spielberg's movie Empire of the Sun, struggling to survive as an internee of the Japanese during World War II. Others remember him as the author of Crash, a meditation on the eroticism of the automobile and the liebstod of the car crash. The book he styled 'the first pornographic novel about science' dramatised the reality behind his formula for the twenty-first century - 'Technology x sex = the future'. It too became a film, and a cause celebre for its frank depiction of a fetish which, as this book reveals, was no literary conceit but a lifelong preoccupation. Uniquely among his contemporaries, Ballard understood and exploited the language of advertising and promotion. Because of him, the term 'inner space' and phrases like 'the only alien planet is Earth' passed into the language. So did the adjective 'Ballardian' - 'resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Ballard's novels and stories, esp. dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments'. In this first biography, John Baxter draws on an admiration of and acquaintance with Ballard that began when they were writers for the same 1960s science fiction magazines. 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 'psychpathic'.
Find out more: John Baxter, The Inner Man: The Life of J. G. Ballard, amazon.co.uk

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