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The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard Hardcover – September 21, 2009
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From Bookmarks Magazine
The 98 entries in The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard remind us of the power of the well-crafted short story. The tales' chronological ordering offers a valuable glimpse into the author's evolution of thought and style, and the range of the work might surprise American readers (the collection was first published nearly a decade ago in Britain) who know Ballard's novels but haven't spent much time with the short fiction. Ballard draws on and influences an eclectic tradition—the author will remind many readers of the American writers Steven Millhauser, Philip K. Dick, William Burroughs, and others—to illustrate again and again how an old master can bring vignettes to life without skimping on big ideas.
“Each of Ballard’s 98 short stories is like a dream more perfectly realized than any of your own....Ultimately, Ballard is simply a master story writer―the maker of unforgettable artifacts in words, each as absolute and perplexing as sculptures unviewable from a single perspective. In this book of 98 stories, there are at least 30 you can spend a lifetime returning to, to wander and wonder around.”
- Jonathan Lethem, The New York Times Book Review
“Although Ballard, who died in April, was probably more influential than he was popular, during his lifetime he received the ultimate literary honorific: the use of his name in adjectival form. Perhaps best known for his books that became movies...he was a prolific and provocative short-story writer, too....An essential work from an essential writer.”
- Keir Graff, Booklist
“As exotic as anyone in the aviary was Ballard, the elegant, evolving stylist, and the one with the finest ideas almost always finely executed. The full showcase of his short-form career is assembled at last in The Collected Stories, with a brilliant introduction by Martin Amis.”
- Richard Wirick, Bookslut
“[A] staggeringly great and varied volume.... The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard offers weeks of surprise and pleasure.”
- Ed Park, Los Angeles Times
“At 1,200 pages, it may seem like a daunting book for the non-enthusiast, but it provides the best angle for approaching Ballard for the first time―and displays his development into Britain's most original postwar writer...The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard demonstrates the range and evolution of that work, and suggests that we might come up with many more uses of 'Ballardian' than we have so far.”
- Fatema Ahmed, The National
“The marvel of most of these tales is how instantly comprehensible their alternate realities are when so little is explained―and how believable they are, too, thanks to Ballard's unflappable narrative voice. With unerring instinct, he finds the ordinariness in the most preposterous scenarios, thus connecting them in detail and tone to our own reality....There are still two Ballard novels and a memoir awaiting U.S. publication. Let's hope the overdue appearance of this volume means the rest are on their way.”
- Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times
Top customer reviews
"The Concentration City", "Manhole 69", "Now Zero", "The Sound Sweep", "Zone of Terror", "Chronopolis", "The Voices of Time", "Deep End", "The Overloaded Man", "Bilennium", "The Garden of Time", "Thirteen to Centaurus", "The Cage of Sand", "The Watchtowers", "The Subliminal Man", "A Question of Re-Entry", "The Time Tombs", "Now Wakes the Sea", "The Venus Hunters", "The Lost Leonardo", "The Drowned Giant", "The Cloud Sculptors of Coral D", "The COMSAT Angels", and (pant, pant) "Low Flying Aircraft"
There you go: the best of the Big Book, edited by the good readers at Amazon.
Without the inclusion of YOU: COMA: MARILYN MONROE, there is absolutely no validity to the title.
An absurd omission. Like excluding Ligeia from a Poe anthology.
And how many other of his peculiar creations might be missing (ie: Plans for the Assassination of Jacqueline Kennedy)!?
I have been a JG devotee since 1967, and believe me, that one remarkable narrative. should have been enough -
had he actually been hip back then - to shame Antonioni into giving up cinema forever.
Or, to wise up and adapt anything from the fabulous Vermilion Sands.
Maybe someday someone will actually be "New Wave" enough to do so.
In any case, though it is nice that all these stories are chronologically arranged, it would have been far more interesting to have
some brief prefatory introductions included. And, of course, ALL of Ballard's short works.
If you're reading this review, you probably already know about the late Mr. Ballard's unique, dystopian, psychologically themed, often controversial sci-fi work. So I won't try to sell you on him as an author. If you like his work, you're probably already at least mildly interested in "The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard." If you don't know or like his work--and it most definitely is not for everyone--then you'll have no interest in the book. So, assuming you're in the former category, is this a book you should consider buying?
My answer is an enthusiastic "Yes!" This collection is a fantastic volume, a fantastic value and a "must-have" for any real Ballard fan. When this massive, heavy tome arrived at my front door, I eagerly opened it, in the proper way for a new book, and then flipped through it, savoring the sheer wealth of creativity captured in small print on its 1,199 crisp pages. Then I checked the Table of Contents. The 98 stories included were published between 1956 and 1992. All of my favorites were there--long-remembered classics such as "The Voices of Time," "The Cloud Sculptors of Coral D," "A Question of Re-Entry" and "The Cage of Sand." Looking further, I came to a sudden realization. I had never read about half of the stories--almost the entire second half of the book. So now I face the pleasant prospect of not only re-reading stories that I've already enjoyed, but also of discovering new ones for the first time. There's not much in the way of "extras" (in DVD parlance)--just a 3-1/2-page Introduction by Martin Amis and a one-page Author's Introduction written in 2001. But the stories here speak for themselves, and the book really needs nothing more. Most highly recommended.
I picked a couple of stories at random to begin, but had bad luck there. The stories were more typical science fiction fare than I was expecting. A time slippage bit- a hypnotized murderer- and a couple of others. I was looking for a more surreal and modern version of Robert Aickman. I was about to give up on it. Then I found Concentration City. Then read other fantastic ones.
That is the problem with a book like this. Ballard was a prolific story writer and a complete collection is bound to have some duds. And, in this case, there are more duds than what I was expecting. That said, when he is brilliant there is nothing like it. Highly original in ideas and images. Those that shine easily outshine the weaker stories in the bunch.