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Suburban Dreaming

Author: • Mar 11th, 2007 •

Category: Ballardosphere, Salvador Dali, Shepperton

Ballardian: JG Ballard
Ballard’s study (photo courtesy the Guardian).

Rhys emailed to point my attention to a series in The Guardian entitled ‘Writer’s Rooms’, currently featuring J.G. Ballard:

My room is dominated by the huge painting, which is a copy of The Violation by the Belgian surrealist Paul Delvaux. The original was destroyed during the Blitz in 1940, and I commissioned an artist I know, Brigid Marlin, to make a copy from a photograph. I never stop looking at this painting and its mysterious and beautiful women. Sometimes I think I have gone to live inside it and each morning I emerge refreshed. It’s a male dream.

There are photos of my four grandchildren (one, along with a picture of my girlfriend Claire, is just out of shot). The postcard is Dali’s Persistence of Memory, the greatest painting of the 20th century, and next to it is a painting by my daughter, which is the greatest painting of the 21st century. On the desk is my old manual typewriter, which I recently found in my stair cupboard. I was inspired by a letter from Will Self, who wrote to me on his manual typewriter. So far I have just stared at the old machine, without daring to touch it, but who knows? The first drafts of my novels have all been written in longhand and then I type them up on my old electric. I have resisted getting a computer because I distrust the whole PC thing. I don’t think a great book has yet been written on computer.

I have worked at this desk for the past 47 years. All my novels have been written on it, and old papers of every kind have accumulated like a great reef. The chair is an old dining-room chair that my mother brought back from China and probably one I sat on as a child, so it has known me for a very long time. A Paolozzi screen-print is resting against the door, which now serves as a cat barrier during the summer months. My neighbour’s cats are enormously affectionate, and in the summer leap up on to my desk and then churn up all my papers into a huge whirlwind. They are my fiercest critics.

I work for three or four hours a day, in the late morning and early afternoon. Then I go out for a walk and come back in time for a large gin and tonic.

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JG Ballard
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UPDATE: See the backlash to Ballard’s anti-PC statement over here.

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2 Responses »

  1. Hi

    After a bit of detective work, I found a link to the correct photo:

    http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-images/Books/Pix/pictures/2007/03/09/ballard.jpg

    I’m sure at some point the Guardian webby folk will update the page although I haven’t told them!

    Funny enough, I liked Beryl Bainbridge’s room alhtough the real one is much more suburban!!

    All best,
    Alan

  2. As Alan ingeniously found the Guardian pic online, I’ve now deleted the (decidedly shonky) scan.

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