Extreme Metaphors: Interviews with J G Ballard, 1967–2008 by Simon Sellars & Dan O’Hara (ed) - review by Kevin Jackson

Kevin Jackson

Conversations on a Concrete Island

Extreme Metaphors: Interviews with J G Ballard, 1967–2008


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Iain Sinclair has long been one of the most loyal advocates of J G Ballard’s writings – but not without a dash of piquant scepticism. In Sinclair’s last book, Ghost Milk, the Dean of Psychogeography often turns away from his main topic (a blaring raspberry to the 2012 Olympics) to muse on the Sage of Shepperton, who died in the course of its composition. Sinclair makes several shrewd hits, two of them about that under-appreciated literary form of the last four decades, the Ballard interview: ‘Ballard,’ he notes, ‘may be the first serious novelist whose oeuvre is most widely represented in books of interviews.’ And: ‘The Ballard interviews, so courteously delivered, on the phone, and in person, were fictions crafted like the rest of his work. He told us what he wanted to tell us. Not a syllable more.’

This is spot-on, and helps explain why, for anyone who cares much for Ballard’s work, Extreme Metaphors is such an absorbing read. Just as the letters of certain writers – Keats, Wilde, Flaubert – have come to seem invaluable, unmissable parts of their oeuvres, so this collection of forty-odd bits

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