««« back to CC Books

DEEP ENDS: the J.G. Ballard Anthology 2016

edited by Rick McGrath, The Terminal Press, Toronto

PDF: What do you make of the Green Movement?

JGB: Touchingly naive, a special kind of infantilism. One might as well try and save the smallpox virus.

[Paul Di Filippo 1991 interview with J.G. Ballard]

§ What can anyone possibly say about J.G. Ballard that hasn't already been covered off by the excellent Deep Ends series, edited & published by Rick McGrath of the Terminal Press? Especially the latest, the fattest, possibly the greatest, volume of all, Deep Ends 2016?

You get all kinds of essay narratives here, including interviews and profiles: M.L.A. (academic), Inverted Pyramid (old school journalese), Interview (when the fame clock hit midnight, Ballard only spoke in interview mode), Memoir (I knew him when it mattered or I knew one of his friends), Gonzo (shotgun personalism), Conversation (just let the recorder run while we have a drink), Poetic (Ballard is just a passing simile for my solo), etc, etc... they're all here, like hacked memos from the Id, the contrasting styles clear markers of the professional societies their authors inhabit. The power of the collection is in its diversity, the anarchy of its allegiance. As usual, you can read it any old way you like, sample it like a large box of chocolates, loving it, confident that even if one item makes you sick, the greedy indulgence is worth it.

Ballard: Deep Ends 2016

There's a lot of interesting stuff here, way beyond the prima facie subject, Ballard, alive or dead. Despite the fact that Ballard disliked contemporary poets and poetry, Paul Green delivers a highly informative summary of the post-war UK poetry scene, its (d)evolution into the deconstructivity of concrete art and the automatism of computer-generated verse [The Poetics of 'Studio 5, the Stars']. Bernard Sigaud, JGB's French translator, confirms that Ballard had no real ear for music, even though his raps were pure onomatopoeia [Testing Reality -- A Middlesex Routine]. Mike Holiday writes a classic profile of Dr. Christopher Evans, the so-called 'hoodlum scientist' who was supposedly Ballard's best friend and the model for Vaughan in Crash [His Closest Friend: A Profile of Christopher Evans]. And a bit more off-the-wall is James Reich's impressionist travelogue to Spaceport America in the Jornada del Muerto adjacent to the White Sands Missile Range, whereby he cleverly explicates the desert setting for Ballard's The Voices of Time [A Giant Trilobite in the Desert].

Like pictures? Interested in Paul Delvaux, the Belgian surrealist? Ballard had commissioned copies hanging in his house and Pippa Tandy tells us why [Women From a Distance]. Want some perspective on the 1960s, when Ballard did his best work? David Pringle provides the names, dates and places of what was really going down [A Ballard-Moorcock Chronology: 1963-1965]. And so on and so forth -- it's all here, no need to go to the Library, and you won't find any of this on the Net.

260 plus pages, 27 contributors, hard or soft, whatever you prefer, plenty of graphics, read it straight or upside down, stiff enough to be a TV tray, beautiful enough to take to bed or leave face down on the counter (great backboard b & w photo by Ana Barrado), an act of mystery whatever way she lies. Deep Ends 2016. Rick McGrath, editor, publisher. The Terminal Press, Toronto. Get it.

© CC October 2016

Deep Ends 2016 at Amazon: USA | Canada | UK