There is a distrust of technology and human nature in Ballard’s novels, a sense of the absurdity of shopping malls and an intuitive understanding how architecture, especially in its most banal forms, affects our emotions. Ballard shunned email and Internet, it was irrelevant to his obsessions. His concern was space, the body, travel, the dark underbelly of a suburban tract housing development.
Even if you’ve never read anything from Ballard, you might be remotely aware of Empire of the Sun. That fictionalized novel was turned into a movie by Steven Spielberg. You might also be vaguely aware of Crash, his 1973 novel, which posited modern society found traffic accidents sexually stimulating and was turned into a movie by David Cronenberg.
After reading Joanne’s obituary for him though, I feel deeply ashamed to never getting around to reading him. Why is it that in many of these cases an artist’s death is what finally pushes us into exploring their creative work?