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    • CommentTimeJan 13th 2011
    I have a confession to make. I've never read anything by J.G. Ballard. I know, it's a black hole in my life experience. I'm neither dolt nor prude. And I'm ready to get to it.

    What's your favorite? Let's not just list off a bunch of titles, I have the Google. What do you like and why do you like it? What's a good starting point? What have you read over and over again? What's your favorite bit of wisdom?
  1.  (9412.2)
    You can get the Complete Short Stories in two volumes from Harper Perennial. They're like Ballard training wheels -- since the same defining obsessions crop up repeatedly as he works them through, the short stories give you the space to adjust to the pecularities of his world view and mode of writing. They foreshadow the novels without ruining them, and you can take it at your own pace, dipping in and out as necessary.
    • CommentTimeJan 13th 2011
    Not Crash! I began and have now possibly ended with JGB thanks to that book...well not really, but I was not real crazy about it. Although I did make it through to the end.
  2.  (9412.4)
    Having read only one of his novels, I can only recommend THE DROWNED WORLD. Great book.

    But I imagine there are much more in-depth purveyors of Mr. Ballard's work than I on the board. . . !
    • CommentTimeJan 13th 2011
    @justinpickard good call on the short stories. That's how I really came to appreciate William Gibson.
    • CommentAuthorjonah
    • CommentTimeJan 13th 2011
    I didn't know about the release of the complete short stories, cool!

    I started with The Best Short Stories of J. G. Ballard. I like it more than most of his long form books I've read. Mrchair If you haven't already purchased the complete books you might consider it. The (used) price and portability are nice. I like reading Ballard on the go.
  3.  (9412.7)
    The novel "Empire of the Sun" is an accessible place to start. My Grandma's read it. I do agree that the short stories are also a decent place to start. I have the two volume complete stories, but the selection in "The Best Short Stories of J. G. Ballard" looks like it is a fine volume to get you going.
    • CommentAuthorarchizero
    • CommentTimeJan 14th 2011
    definetely the short stories. they'll get you hooked. then the drowning world, hello america, crash, atrocity exhibition, highrise, running wild... not necessarily in this order.
    • CommentTimeJan 14th 2011
    It depends on what you'd think is closer to what you like. His stories are definitely a good place to start, especially those in THE DISASTER AREA, THE DAY OF FOREVER, VERMILION SANDS and MYTHS OF THE NEAR FUTURE. His early novels (DROWNED WORLD, DRAUGHT, CRYSTAL WORLD) and stories are closer to traditional SF, like a mix of Clarke, Pohl/Kornbluth and Bester in many ways. The 70s novels (HIGH RISE, CONCRETE ISLAND, CRASH)started to become more hyper-real, in the sense that Gibson's later work is. They explore more immediate social and psychological developments, something that he picked up again in the last quartet of novels, which might also be an interesting place to start. Some of the 80s novels, like HELLO AMERICA, are also very cool.
    • CommentAuthorKradlum
    • CommentTimeJan 14th 2011
    I'd start with The Drowned World and read them in choronological order (skip The Wind From Nowhere which was his first novel and feels like a bit of a practice run to me). That way you get to see how his skills and themes develop.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeJan 14th 2011
    Start with the film of Empire of the Sun. It's not representative of the rest of his work, but is a good start and a lot of the other stuff comes back to it. And you can spend two hours watching the film instead of many more reading the book, just to see if it works for you.
    • CommentTimeJan 14th 2011
    @Oddcult - I don't mind admitting the Empire of the Sun movie was my introduction to Ballard.
  4.  (9412.13)
    I am a fan of the film of Crash. But I have been lead to believe that I am fairly unique in this regard. Still haven't seen the film of Empire of the Sun, only read the novel.
      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeJan 14th 2011
    Cocaine Nights is a dark, suffocating trip in the sunshine.
  5.  (9412.15)
    I've only read Crash. I thought the novel was poor, but Ballard's introduction to it (written in 1995) was fascinating. It's three pages long. Go read it next time yr in a bookshop.
  6.  (9412.16)
    @ Ginja - I completely adore the film Crash.

    @ Mr. Chair - I, too, have never read any Ballard. I am glad you've started this thread.

    @ Oddcult - I don't think that watching the film adaptation of a book is a good way to judge if you'd be a fan of a writer's literary work.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeJan 17th 2011
    True in general, but it is still a good place to start in this instance.
  7.  (9412.18)
    I was just writing an email to Rachael about Ballard and remembered something that was published to The Guardian's website recently. This is the best place to start with Ballard.

    William Boyd reads 'My Dream of Flying to Wake Island' by JG Ballard.
    • CommentTimeJan 17th 2011
    @Ginja Can't wait to listen to this, that's fantastic. Thanks.

    I find it interesting that Ballard's work tends to polarize even fans. Crash and Empire of the Sun seem to rouse a lot of varying opinions.
  8.  (9412.20)
    My first exposure was The Atrocity Exhibition, which probably wasn't a very good place to start. As a Burroughs fan I still found it disjointed.

    Other than that I've read The Drowned World and Empire of the Sun, and both are fantastic for completely different reasons.