The Times ran an excerpt of surrealist science fiction author JG Ballard's forthcoming autobiography, Miracles Of Life. Ballard, my favorite living novelist, wrote such mindbending books as Crash, Concrete Island, and Cocaine Nights. His boyhood in a Japanese internment camp in Shanghai became the book, and movie, Empire of the Sun. Accompanying the excerpt from the new autobiography is a brief profile of Ballard that publicly reveals for the first time that he has advanced prostate cancer. I'm very saddened by this news and wish him comfort. From the interview:
Ballard is courteous and genial in a slightly donnish way. At 77, he takes his time assembling his thoughts, but they remain unflinching and provocative, expressed with the verbal tics of his colonial background. But time, the malleable stuff of his science fiction, is running out. After being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2006, he sat down at his electric typewriter – "The computer age came too late for me" – and rapidly wrote his autobiography.
It is a remarkable story, told modestly and with great eloquence. If Ballard's Shanghai years seemed like a fantasy to him, his subsequent life reads like even stranger fiction. His agenda to pin down reality led him to cut up corpses as a medical student and to provoke uproar by speculating on the links between sex and smashed cars in his novel Crash.