Selected Nonfiction, 1962-2007
J. G. Ballard’s collected nonfiction from 1962 to 2007, mapping the cultural obsessions, experiences, and insights of one of the most original minds of his generation.
J. G. Ballard was a colossal figure in English literature and an imaginative force of the twentieth century. Alongside seminal novels—from the notorious Crash (1973) to the semi-autobiographical Empire of the Sun (1984)—Ballard was a sought-after reviewer and commentator, publishing journalism, memoir, and cultural criticism in a variety of forms. The Selected Nonfiction of J. G. Ballard collects the most significant short nonfiction of Ballard’s fifty-year career, extending the range of the only previous collection of his nonfiction, A User’s Guide to the Millennium (1996), which selected essays and reviews published between 1962 and 1995.
A decade on from Ballard’s death in 2009, a new generation of readers needs a new collection. In the period following A User’s Guide, Ballard’s writing addressed 9/11, British politics from New Labour onward, and what he termed “the rise of soft fascism”—a diagnosis that maintains its relevance amid a shift toward right populism in European and US politics. Beautifully edited by Ballard scholar and novelist Mark Blacklock, this volume includes Ballard’s editorials and manifestos; commentaries on his own work; commentaries on the work of others; reviews; and more. Above all, it makes the case for the currency of Ballard’s work at a contemporary juncture at which so many of his diagnoses concerning the media and politics have become apparent.
Praise for Selected Nonfiction, 1962-2007
"China-born English writer Ballard (Empire of the Sun; Crash) wrote nonfiction in addition to his novels and short stories...This volume of nonfiction, edited by literary scholar and novelist Blacklock (The Emergence of the Fourth Dimension), spans decades and covers topics like consumerism, Salvador Dalí, science fiction, future technology, civilization, and everyday ironies. The book is arranged by type of document (essays, reviews, commentaries), and the materials in each chapter are thus arranged chronologically. Ballard provides fascinating cultural criticism; he notes in 1962 that the U.S. population will likely be bored by space exploration, as real-life astronauts are not fitted with the robots and machines customary in a Buck Rogers adventure. Ballard excels at intriguing juxtapositions of items and ideas, a surrealism in prose form. A general introduction brings biographical context to Ballard’s life and work, and each chapter provides a contextual framework for the pieces within...An eclectic collection of essays for scholars of 20th-century literature."
“If everything for Ballard is fiction, what makes for inclusion in a selection of his nonfiction? Aware of his challenge, Blacklock hopes to ‘illuminate the full range of Ballard’s activities as a reviewer, essayist, journalist, commentator, memoirist, provocateur, compiler of lists, and talking head.’ He achieves this handsomely.”
—The Times Literary Supplement
“Ballard is exceptionally prescient, capturing a world that didn’t yet fully exist or wasn’t visible to most.”
“As George Orwell died in January 1950 and J. G. Ballard began to publish professionally in 1956 we can describe the first as the greatest author of the twentieth century, and Ballard as the greatest author of the second part of the twentieth.”
—The Orwell Society