Finishing JG Ballard’s The Kindness of Women completed the trilogy of autobiographical reading following the writer’s death in the spring. Reading it after The Miracle of Life: From Shanghai to Shepperton, and after watching Christian Bale play Jim Ballard in Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, added to the understanding of this complex individual. It is hard to reconcile the recurrent themes that Ballard addressed in his fiction with the thoroughly nice, whiskey-swilling suburbanite of his autobiographies.
I read Ballard intensely in my twenties and kept up with each successive release. Before his death I was never drawn to his autobiographical work. I am pleased to have made the effort to comprehend the man, to the extent autobiography offers any insight.
Concrete Island , though a minor Ballard, is my personal favourite, surreal and utterly terrifying.