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Suburban DreamingAuthor: Simon Sellars • Mar 11th, 2007 •
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.
UPDATE: See the backlash to Ballard’s anti-PC statement over here.
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