Synopses & Reviews
The American publication of The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard
is a landmark event. Increasingly recognized as one of the greatest and most prophetic novelists, J. G. Ballard was a writer of enormous inventive powers, who, in the words of Malcolm Bradbury, possessed, like Calvino, a remarkable gift for filling the empty deprived spaces of modern life with the invisible cities and the wonder worlds of imagination. Best known for his novels, such as Empire of the Sun
, Ballard rose to fame as the ideal chronicler of disturbed modernity (the Observer
). Perhaps less known, though equally brilliant, were his devastatingly original short stories, which span nearly fifty years and reveal an unparalleled prescience so unique that a new word — Ballardian — had to be invented. Ballard, who wrote that short stories are the loose change in the treasury of fiction, easily ignored beside the wealth of novels available, regretted the fact that the public had increasingly lost its ability to appreciate them. With 98 pulse-quickening stories, this volume helps restore the very art form that Ballard feared was comatose.
Ballard's inimitable style was already present in his early stories, most of them published in science fiction magazines. These stories are surreal, richly atmospheric and splendidly elliptical, featuring an assortment of psychotropic houses, time-traveling assassins, and cities without clocks. Over the next fifty years, his fierce imaginative energy propelled him to explore new topics, including the dehumanization of technology, the brutality of the corporation, and nuclear Armageddon. Depicting the human soul as being enervated and corrupted by the modern world (New York Times), Ballard began to examine themes like overpopulation, as in "Billenium," a claustrophobic imagining of a world of 20 billion people crammed into four-square-meter rooms, or the false realities of modern media, as in the classic "Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan," a faux-psychological study of the sexual and violent reactions elicited by viewing Reagan's face on television, in which Ballard predicted the unholy fusion of pop culture and sound-bite politics thirteen years before Reagan became president. Given Ballard's heightened powers of perception, it is astonishing that the dehumanized world that he apprehended so acutely neither diminished his own febrile imagination nor his engagement with mankind, evident in every story, including two new ones for this American edition. So eerily prophetic is his vision, so commanding are his literary gifts, the import and insight of J. G. Ballard's deeply humanistic and transcendent works can only grow in years to come.
"Ultimately, Ballard is simply a master story writer — the maker of unforgettable artifacts in words, each as absolute and perplexing as sculptures unviewable from a single perspective." Jonathan Lethem
"An essential work from an essential writer." Booklist
"The variety of stories here is impressive, even dizzying...Ballard is every bit the equal of Vonnegut, Orwell, and Huxley." Library Journal
"Ballard left behind nineteen novels, a wonderful autobiography called Miracles of Life, and the ninety-eight stories collected in this volume. For many years he wasn't taken seriously by the high-lit Bloomsbury critics of his day, but he was read and admired in Britain's art schools, acquiring a following among bands like Joy Division and Radiohead. (A garage rocker recorded a song entitled "Me and J. G. Ballard" that describes an encounter with the writer in a local supermarket, where the two struggle over the last packet of frozen peas.)" Nicholas Fraser, Harper's Magazine
(read the entire Harper's review
J. G. Ballard should be recognized as one of the greatest and most prophetic writers in the world. Here, in his Complete Stories, readers can finally celebrate the unparalleled range and the mesmerizing cadences of a literary genius, who like Calvino, has a remarkable gift for filling the empty, deprived spaces of modern life (Malcolm Bradbury). With 92 enthralling and pulse-quickening stories, spanning five decades, and featuring such classics as "Prima Belladonna," "Dead Time," and "The Index," Ballard's Complete Stories evokes Kafka and Borges with its ability to render psychosis, modern paranoia, and fantastical creations on the page. Whether writing about musical orchids, human cannibalism, or the secret history of World War III, Ballard is one of the most inventive of twentieth-century writers, and has endowed the world with such a humanistic and transcendent vision that his influence will grow in years to come.
With a body of work unparalleled in twentieth-century literature, J. G. Ballard is recognized as one of the greatest and most prophetic writers in the world. With the much-hailed release of , readers now have a means to celebrate the unmatched range and mesmerizing cadences of a literary genius. Whether writing about musical orchids, human cannibalism, or the secret history of World War III, Ballard's evokes the hallucinations of Kafka and Borges in its ability to render modern paranoia and fantastical creations on the page. A Best Book of 2009, Best Book, Favorite Book, and Best Book.
A collection of 98 enthralling and pulse-quickening stories, spanning five decades, venerates the remarkable imagination of J. G. Ballard.
About the Author
Born in Shanghai in 1930, J. G. Ballard is the author of more than eighteen novels, including Empire of the Sun, The Drowned World, Crash, and Millennium People. He was catapulted to literary fame with the 1964 publication of The Drought. He died in London in April 2009.Martin Amis is one of Britain's most prolific post-war writers and a professor of creative writing at the University of Manchester. His stories and essays explore the absurdity of the postmodern condition.