Mark Dery on JG Ballard's memoir

One of my all-time favorite writers, JG Ballard, recently published his memoir, titled Miracles Of Life. Ballard is the author of such fantastic fiction as Crash, Concrete Island, Cocaine Nights, and Millennium People. A year ago, he publicly revealed that he has advanced prostate cancer. The memoir may not be his final book though. According to a post by Mark Dery at Shovelware, rumor has it that Ballard's agent is shopping a nonfiction work, "Conversations with My Physician: The Meaning, if any, of Life." Dery's post is tied to his LA Weekly review of Miracles Of Life. From the review (photo by Paul Murphy/Catfunt):

 Archives Images Jg Ballard

In Miracles, Ballard plays analyst to an engagingly garrulous and profoundly self-aware patient named James Ballard. It is a role he would have played in real life if the typewriter had not beckoned. Having returned to England with his mother and sister after the war (his father stayed behind in Shanghai), Ballard encountered Freud and, in books on abnormal psychology, Freud's unruly grandchildren the Surrealists. Both landed in the drawing room of his middle-class English mind like "a stick of bombs," he recalls. "I felt, and still do, that psychoanalysis and surrealism were a key to the truth about existence and the human personality, and also a key to myself." In 1949, he began his studies at King's College, Cambridge, with the intention of becoming a psychiatrist, but after two years, realizing that he was more interested in writing than psychiatry, he dropped out.

Still, shrinks abound in Ballard's work, many of them poker-faced mouthpieces for the author's ironic polemics: Dr. Wilder Penrose in Super-Cannes (2001), arguing that "a perverse sexual act can liberate the visionary self in even the dullest soul"; Dr. David Markham in Millennium People (2003), coolly observing that in Blair's England "a vicious boredom ruled the world for the first time in human history, interrupted by meaningless acts of violence"; Dr. Tony Maxted in Kingdom Come (2006), opining that psychopathy is "the only guarantee of freedom from all the cant and bullshit and sales commercials fed to us by politicians, bishops and academics."

In a very real sense, Ballard did become a psychiatrist, albeit a dryly ironic one, at ease with his philosophical bipolar disorder – now profoundly moralistic, now exuberantly amoral, now both. All of his dystopias are in truth pathological utopias…

"Miracles of Life: J.G. Ballard's Pre-posthumous Memoir" (LA Weekly), "JG Ballard: Pathologist of the Postmodern" (Shovelware)