J.G. Ballard: The Emperor of Shepperton

In the realms of imaginative fiction, few have been as far "out there" for as long as J.G. Ballard. Yet the disturbing, warped realms conjured up in his 19 novels and myriad short stories have always stood in intriguing contradiction to the engaging, resolutely suburban, rather old-fashioned man who wrote them. At no point in his slim and dignified autobiography, Miracles of Life: Shanghai to Shepperton, does Ballard address that mismatch. But just by the telling, his story explains it all.

As the subtitle suggests, the first half of Miracles of Life deals with Ballard's extraordinary childhood in...

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