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The Ballard tradition

The present has caught up with JG Ballard

By Will Self   September 2003

Book: Millennium People Author: JG Ballard Price: (Flamingo, ?16.99)

Why is JG Ballard rated by many (including myself) as the most significant English novelist of the second half of the 20th century? His fusions of 1920s surrealism, 1960s science fiction and contemporary suburbia can appear not merely dystopian but perverse. His prose, when not clunking along as if daring you to find it prosaic, can veer into imagery at once bluntly technical and comically transcendent: eros and thanatos browning on a gas-fired barbecue. But Ballard’s prose is daring, because it can seem like a form of mass spectrometry, as western…

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