In the short time since J.G. Ballard died, there have been many tributes and appraisals of his work. I found Moorcock’s piece in the Guardian very moving, and Simon Sellars’ obituary on Ballardian.com both thought-provoking and, in a sad way, exhilarating.
Anything I can say is just another grain of sand on the terminal beach, but I want to share something about a writer whose work has always been important to me.
As a teenager I would borrow books such as The Atrocity Exhibition from Portslade Library, a place which will definitely feature in this walk.
I remember getting Concrete Island from there as soon as it came out – a novel about an injured man marooned, Crusoe like, on a large sunken traffic island. This space is described as a sort of depression in the urban landscape, with steep banks. Portslade’s Victoria Park, next to the library, also has banks of steepness and a hint of concrete underpass – just like the book! So that’s where I sat to read it. This was lovely -every boy’s dream – like reading a Tarzan book in the actual jungle, or The Once and Future King in on the ramparts of a castle.
Injured man ignores woman in the nip
One thing that I loved about Ballard’s stuff was a sense that the day-to-day landscapes and objects that surrounded me were exciting, meaningful, dangerous. All of a sudden it was OK to find car show rooms and ring roads beautiful and moving…