Sam Leith

The Adman Cometh

The Inner Man: The Life of J G Ballard

By

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 377pp £20 order from our bookshop

Not long after J G Ballard’s death, I was exchanging emails with Mike Moorcock, one of Ballard’s oldest and best friends. The avuncular old gent at whose feet Will Self and Iain Sinclair sat, Mike warned, was a carefully managed fiction.

Well, John Baxter’s book firmly sees off that avuncular old gent – and how. The Ballard who emerges from it is a drunk, a woman-beater, a liar, a humbug, a borderline plagiarist, a self-publicist, a bully, a philistine, a racist and a misogynist. Much of the work is expressly or implicitly dismissed as second rate, too: the productions of an adman rather than an artist.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Start your week with a dose of Russian Revolutionary zeal. Donald Rayfield reviews Tobie Mathew's 'Greetings From t… ,
    • A treat from the LR Archive: exactly 20 years ago, Malcolm Bradbury reviewed John Updike's 'Bech at Bay' ,
    • ‘When bullets come close, the noise they make as they go past changes from a zing to a crack’ John Lanchester's dy… ,
    • Man with a Bloody Paintbrush: Robin Simon on Lucian Freud ,
    • Jane Ridley reviews The Diaries of Kenneth Rose (ed. D R Thorpe) ,
    • ‘Look,’ says Trump. ‘The fact is I’m only human.’ On the evidence of this book that point is debatable. From the A… ,
    • From our December/January issue - here's John Banville's review of Colm Tóibín on the fathers of Wilde, Yeats and J… ,