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.

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