~ J.G. Ballard.
Is there anyone like him?
Original, imaginative, his work sets its own parameters. Stark, it builds in story and description then slams itself into you like a force of its own nature.
“The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard” begins with seeming simplicity, but grows intense fast. A tremendous introduction to Ballard’s work.
For example, from “The Garden of Time”:
“Towards evening, when the great shadow of the Palladian villa filled the terrace, Count Axel left his library and walked down the wide marble steps among the time flowers. A tall, imperious figure in a black velvet jacket, a gold tie-pin glinting below his George V beard, cane held stiffly in a white-gloved hand, he surveyed the exquisite crystal flowers without emotion, listening to the sounds of his wife’s harpsichord, as she played a Mozart rondo in the music room, echo and vibrate through the translucent petals.
“As was his custom before beginning his regular evening stroll, Count Axel looked out across the plain to the final rise, where the horizon was illuminated like a distant stage by the fading sun. As the Mozart chimed delicately around him, flowing from his wife‟s graceful hands, he saw that the advance columns of an enormous army were moving slowly over the horizon. At first glance, the long ranks seemed to be progressing in orderly lines, but on closer inspection, it was apparent that, like the obscured detail of a Goya landscape, the army was composed of a vast confused throng of people, men and women, interspersed with a few soldiers in ragged uniforms, pressing forward in a disorganised tide. Some laboured under heavy loads suspended from crude yokes around their necks; others struggled with cumbersome wooden carts, their hands wrenching at the wheel spokes; a few trudged on alone; but all moved on at the same pace, bowed backs illuminated in the fleeting sun.
“The advancing throng was almost too far away to be visible, but even as Axel watched, his expression aloof yet observant, it came perceptibly nearer, the vanguard of an immense rabble appearing from below the horizon…”
For me, I was ignited…the desire for more. And there is more…this work is massive, not to mention his wealth of novels. (I’m looking forward to delving into “The Crystal World”.)
It’s easy to grow obsessed with Ballard. He dives head-over-heels into his worlds and takes you along for the ride. Be careful. This is a serious writer who knows his craft and uses it well.