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.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter