May 8th, 2009



Walsh thinks of Ballard as two distinct personalities: there was Jimmy, the man who sat on her sofa reading the papers, playing with her cats, and there was JG, the novelist, who would sometimes retreat into himself. "Most of the time with Jimmy you weren't going all that deep, but he set aside times for JG, as it were. He stopped watching television a long time ago, he never listened to the radio, and he didn't like music. He liked quiet. In those moments if I asked him what was on his mind, he would just say: I am thinking about my life."

For a while, I've been clicking links in the web and following various pages about Ballard. The above is from an interview with Claire Walsh, Ballard's partner, in the Guardian.

It's strange, I think, to watch the articles and reprints of his work burst out after his death. There's some drama, of course, in that the New Yorker and the Guardian both published short pieces, without acknowledging the reprints--the drama seems to be part of a desire to claim Ballard by literary establishments, but I might be wrong there, and truthfully, I'm not too fussed either way. But it's strange to watch the way people talk about him, as if by dying, Ballard gave himself over to the public, and the analysing of his life and work has a hint of being something of a celebratory autopsy, with excitement arising when the heart is found.

As tributes to the late, great JG Ballard continue to roll in from all quarters, his publisher has quietly cancelled publication of what would have been his final book.

HarperCollins had planned to bring out the non-fiction title, which would have been an account of Ballard's discussions with his doctor, this September. But the author, suffering from cancer, was too ill to work on it, and plans for Conversations with My Physician – subtitled The Meaning, If Any, of Life – were abandoned.

"We had agreed the terms but Jim became too ill last winter to start any work on it," said his editor Clare Reihill. "He had written a wonderful, quite detailed proposal - the book was laid out, he knew exactly what he was going to do, but sadly he became too ill to do any more so unfortunately it won't happen."

Miracles of Life, the autobiography he published last year and for which demand has surged in the days since his death, would be his final book, Reihill said. "In the final chapter he does tell us that it is his last book, and it sadly turned out to be the case after all."

It was too early, she said, to know if there were other unfinished novels or manuscripts that Ballard had left behind. "It would be wonderful of course, but he was such a meticulous man that I imagine everything was left in the way he intended it to be."