“He was a charming, classic English gentleman with a generous heart, a cynical take on the world and a huge sense of humour.
“He was a colonial figure in some senses. He had grown up in Shanghai and had very good manners. He was very generous and polite and it took a long while before he would do anything that wasn’t very controlled.”
Once he did relax, his relentless imagination and idiosyncratic interests made him a unique dining companion.
“Everything that everybody else was bored by or appalled by, he was excited by. He wasn’t really interested in English literary parties and kept himself outside that.
“He was bored by the heritage of Central London and, unlike other writers, never wanted to talk about what he was writing. He preferred to talk about ideas, or some weird news cuttings he had brought along.
“Living out in Shepperton for so long, he was one of the first to undersand that the psychosis of suburbia was a fascinating thing to pursue.
“He loved the edges of cities: shopping complexes, motorways and airports. He was very taken up with Watford because of its multi-storey car parks.
“Where other people were terrified by the consumerist culture he saw it as exciting, something he could manipulate, shredding it and making his own world out of it.”
I always found Ballard to be an interesting author, in the best of terms. He had a lot of ideas floating around in his work, and with his short work, he had nice changes in form, one of which influenced a short piece I wrote a few years back. I still think 'Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan' is one of the darkest and most intelligent uses of form I've read.
It's a shame to say this now that he's dead, but if you've never read any of his work, you could do worse than checking some out.