J.G. Ballard, 1930-2009

Sadly, one of the last great subversive writers, J.G. Ballard, has died. Read the news in Guardian.co.uk. He was probably the second-most read writer (after Philip K. Dick) among my cohort in the mind-expanding years following our escape from university.
I recommend you celebrate his life by reading The Crystal World, a truly ecstatic work of the imagination, Crash, his unforgettable subversive classic, and Miracles of Life, his recent autobiography. Get to it – he’s gone but he should not be forgotten!

The 1980 album Closer – [‘s last record before the death of singer Ian Curtis – included the track Atrocity Exhibition, a chilling glimpse into psychosis. The track is based on Ballard’s 1970 short-story collection The Atrocity Exhibition, in which a psychotic mental hospital doctor tries to make sense of world events surrounding him. Curtis had written most of the song before reading Ballard’s book, but the song – anchored round the oppressive chorus “this is the way, step inside” – is still heavily informed by Ballard’s tale of a man restaging world events in his mind.

BBC: What pop music tells us about JG Ballard »

Barry Kavanagh writes fiction, and has made music, formerly with Dacianos.

Contact him here.


  1. I remember reading everything of his in the Northampton library I could get when I was 18. My favorite was “Hello America” closely followed by “Vermilion Sands”. “The Atrocity Exhibition” blew my mind – Reagan was still president when I first read it.

  2. I THINK I began with ‘The Terminal Beach’, borrowed from a library when I was 21… I’m definitely going to be (re-)reading some Ballard now soon, so maybe I’ll write something longer for blather.net in ‘the near future’.

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