Dirda Reviews Ballard Collection
in Washington Post

Ballard once said, “The only truly alien planet is Earth,” recalls Michael Dirda in his review of The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard for the Washington Post.

Dirda sees parallels between Ballard and Philip K. Dick: many would agree. What’s surprising is his description of the contrasts in their work:

…Dick’s work is fundamentally sociable, a paean to unacknowledged goodness and the quiet satisfactions of ordinary life. Ballard’s protagonists tend to be isolated visionaries who inexorably pursue their obsessions to the point of madness or death, typically reaching self-fulfillment through nothing less than self-immolation.

By Michael Dirda’s lights, Phil Dick’s worldview sounds practically Hobbit-esque. But I don’t see Ragle Gumm or Frank Frink adjourning to the Prancing Pony for a jolly tankard of ale.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the link.]

Discover more from File 770

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

2 thoughts on “Dirda Reviews Ballard Collection
in Washington Post

  1. A strange remark, and true only, if at all, in comparison to Ballard. Dick’s characters are not best described as “isolated visionaries,” as Dirda calls Ballard’s, but whether they make a connection with a social support group at all varies from novel to novel, and it’s not always useful to them if they do. And they are always, always deeply isolated from the larger society. Comments by his characters about ordinary life tend to be bemused or ironic rather than expressive of satisfaction, or a paean to anything. There is nothing cozy or warm about Phildickia.

  2. What always roped me in about J.G. Ballard was the prose style. He was one of the most graceful stylists ever associated with the genre.

    I never read a lot of Philip K. Dick, but my recollection of the work I did read is that it was like hacking my way through the undergrowth with a machete. 🙂

Comments are closed.