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Ballard & Lovecraft, part 3

Author: • Oct 18th, 2008 •

Category: Ballardosphere, body horror, H.P. Lovecraft, horror, medical procedure

Thanks to Mike Holliday, who unearthed the following quote, the Ballard/Lovecraft connection now makes brilliant sense to me:

David Pringle: Have you read any modern horror – Stephen King, for example?

JGB: I enjoyed Clive Barker’s Weaveworld. He gave me a copy, and it was a pleasure to read. He’s an engaging, lively character. I liked him enormously – very lucid and intelligent and simpatico. But, I’m afraid, apart from the Barker, I’ve read almost nothing. No, I haven’t read Stephen King, though I enjoyed the TV movie of Salem’s Lot. I thought that was well done, but then I enjoyed the Omen films too. I know nothing about the world of horror. My reading of horror fiction is strictly Edgar Allan Poe and W W Jacobs and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

DP: Would you consider yourself a writer of horror stories?

JGB: You could say Crash is on the edges of horror fiction. I take it that, in horror fiction, the horrific effects are the object of the exercise. In the Gothic novel the clanking chains and creaking drawbridges and whistling pendulums are the object; the chill of terror and fear is the whole purpose. Whereas in a book like Crash I’m not out to make the blood run cold: I’m trying to look at the eroticism of the car crash and the way modern technology has infiltrated our minds, taken over a large part of our imaginations and created a world of very different values.

I’ve never thought of myself as a writer of horror. When you’re dealing with a sensational subject matter, where you’re showing radical changes with people making sudden discoveries about the reality of their lives in dramatic circumstances, where people are being plagued by intense mental crises (as they are in a lot of my fiction), you’re getting into an area close to horror fiction. The main props of the classic tale of terror were haunted castles and alike. The present day equivalents of haunted castles are psychiatric hospitals; the blade-tipped pendulum has given way to the scalpel in the neurosurgeon’s fingers. It’s not the evil potion in a dusty bell-jar that frightens us now, it’s the contents of the hypodermic syringe, and the needle that may not be too clean. The props have changed. There are sudden glimpses of the shocking and unspeakable in my fiction too, so there is a certain overlap.

David Pringle, ‘Memoirs for a Space Age’, 1990 interview with JGB in Fear magazine.

..:: Previously:
+ Ballardcraft: Ballard/Lovecraft
+ JGB vs HPL

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