Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Three Stigmata

J.G. Ballard, R.I.P. to be? Yes, perhaps. The 77 year old English writer was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. I imagine that prepares you for the big change. He is currently finishing up work on another book. Ballard has been called the William S. Burroughs of England and is in the tier of writers who have influenced me and my writing. Those writers include Ray Bradbury, William S. Burroughs and Cormac McCarthy. Certainly he has already given us a dozen or more great books; focused and without catagory; intense, erotic, violent and thought-provoking.
When it comes to new writers his style is often copied but never as intelligent, obsessive or given to bizzare medical and psychological abstraction (i.e. The Atrocity Exhibition, a book that is possibly stranger than Naked Lunch and certainly prefigured Ballard's own Crash).
Don Delillo and Chuck Palahnuik have nothing on Ballard.

Suggested reading:

Vermillion Sands
The Crystal World
Concrete Island
The Unlimited Dream Company
Empire of the Sun
The Best Short Stories of JG Ballard

Currently reading The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

Having some difficulty finishing because Philip K. Dick is often a difficult read. Not the context or subject. It is in the prose itself. He wrote books a mile-a-second, done at a breakneck speed-influenced pace and I feel his editors could have worked a little harder to reduce. Reduction is the key in editing a text and a book is born only when it has been edited several times. Reduction, reduction, reduction. It is amazing how many ideas he could pump into a story. He certainly was not without ingenuity and seemed to have an endless stream of original ideas.

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