A User's Guide to the Millennium: Essays and Reviews

J. G. Ballard, Author Picador USA $23 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-14440-1
Ballard, the British novelist best known for Empire of the Sun, has also done a considerable amount of movie and book reviewing, as well as assorted hackwork, mostly for British newspapers, and this collection is a representative selection. His pieces display a crisp style, an offbeat affection for some of the trappings of contemporary life-such as superhighways, shopping centers, high-rise hotels-usually scorned by literary folk, and an abiding passion for science fiction (of which Ballard himself is a skilled practitioner). He is excellent on SF movies (there are not nearly enough of his cogent reviews of these here), but he is less interesting, being perhaps less involved, in writing about the visual arts. His book reviews are a highly eclectic lot, displaying great enthusiasm for William S. Burroughs, Nathanael West and Henry Miller. The real problem with this collection, apart from its lack of focus, is that Ballard the essayist is not nearly as compelling as Ballard the creative writer. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1996
Release date: 05/01/1996
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