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on 17 November 2007
I have read most of what Ballard has written; and I can't understand why this novel is so neglected, compared to The Atrocity Exhibition or Crash. To me this is the best thing he has written in the long form. Some of his short stories may be a bit better; but this is an absolute masterpiece, and it's probably the book I'd first give a friend to allow him or her to discover the Ballard World. It's a complex and astounding mix of facts and fiction, of visionary imagination and down-to-earth realism. The parts about the death of the protagonist's wife, the end of the war, the making of the movie Empire of the Sun in Shepperton should be in anthologies of English literature. His prose is dazzling, and this is probably the only long book by ballard where we don't meet his stereotypical characters only, but a wide variety of persons. All in all, a must-read for those who think Ballard is only Empire of the Sun and Crash.
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on 17 October 2012
Even if you are new to J.G. Ballard or if Ballard's other novels are not your cup of tea, this 'fictional auto-biography' loosely based on Ballard's life in the fifties and sixties is an engrossing read, Ballard's prose is at his best here, from a brilliant description of a home birth to visiting a friend in a psychiatric hospital, to losing his wife and the resultant grief, and much much more. Too good to miss and superior to his otherwise also interesting auto-biography. There are not many books quite like this.
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on 28 April 2002
This book fills in around "Empire of the Sun" and goes a long way to explaining the perversities of "The Atrocity Exhibition" and "Crash". Compulsive reading for almost anyone. The story of Ballards life (more or less). I can only say read it. Then read it again and give it to someone.
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on 12 December 2015
Cover 4/5 Different to the one in Amazon showing reclining nude.

Contents. I recall I found his straight autobiography a better read than Empire of the Sun. I like the way of writing in all his books. My thanks to a reviewer of my previous review of his autobiography for leading me to this book.

The factual background was interesting social history. Being presented as a novel leads me to wonder whether the full range of much of the intimate detail might have been what he would have liked it to be rather than what actually happened. There is no disclaimer about characters being fictional in my version.

*Engrossing and interesting - Yes the mix of fact and fiction works well. Thought provoking.

*Enjoyment and entertainment - Difficult to say this about a book with such so much tragic material, characters and a WW2 background.

*Emotional - Although I must have known about his personal loss from previous reading the shock came as a surprise even after the lead up to a different presentation when one knew horrible things were about to be revealed.

*Educational - His whole fact and fiction world. A very strong talented person not to have suffered, as far as I know, in the same way as David his friend in the book.

*Ease of reading - Everything flowed well. What I aspire to in my own writing.

No of characters and length of book about right. A nice collection of life stories linked together similar to the method in my own writing. I have ordered his complete short stories.

May read again. Memorable book which would have been better for less or more subtle treatment of the unwholesome intimate details.

Alexander of the Allrighters and Ywnwab!
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on 23 April 2013
J.G. Was a revelation to me when I read Empire of The Sun and this is the sequel, just as good. A classic 'literary novel' of the first water. I marvelled at his description of the ordinary and of the less so which left me revelling in his powers of insight and description.
If it isn't already , I imagine this will be an A Level set book in years to come. Thoroughly reccomended.
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on 24 January 2013
This is a good book an interesting read and a great sequel to Empire of The Sun. I Would recommend this If you liked empire of the sun and would like to know what happened to wee Jim.

Just in case you don't expect it, I never, this book has explicit scenes that are a little uncomfortable to read at times.
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on 23 November 1999
Ballard shows his mastery of narrative by giving us glimpses of the turning points in his life. Rather than opting for a straight chronological narration, he illustrates the defining role the women of his life have played, and the impact they've had on both his personal life, and his creativity as an author. At times hilarious, at times unsettling, the novel never fails to spark the senses and leaves the reader with a sense of an irresistable lust for life. Eminently readable on its own, but also a great companion read to Empire of the Sun.
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on 4 February 2013
The second of three autobiographical texts in the Ballard canon, 'Kindness' revisits the childhood experience covered by 'Empire of the Sun' (albeit from a different angle), before embarking on the equally extraordinary life of the adult in post-war Britain. The new territory peels back another layer of explanation for the leitmotif recurrent in Ballard's fiction, grounding the outlandish and bizarre elements of his work in a reality that could not (seemingly) have been made up. In the provenance produced for signature themes such as the car crash and the sexual stimulus provided by the geometry of the built environment, the roots of his stark SF imagery can be traced back to the symptoms exhibited by sufferers of war neurosis, and the marital bliss enjoyed by the writer in his suburban home. However, as Ballard confessed in the final part of the autobiographical trilogy 'The Miracles of Life', much of what is written in 'Empire' and 'Kindness' is fictitious, and so it is through this later text that the serious detective of biography must re-read the earlier novels if they are to sort out what really is what with the Seer of Shepperton. The ambiguity in the writers feelings toward the Japanese is less poignantly reproduced in 'Kindness' than it was in 'Empire'; the childhood hunger pangs which divided his loyalty in the camp have been superceded by an adult's cravings, made all the more realiseable with the destruction of the enemy with the Atom bomb. Also, it is noteworthy that in this novel, Ballard mystifyingly resources the prose style of pornography when describing sex, a departure from his usual technique, which gives this text a certain distinction within his body of work as a whole, though not, perhaps, a favourable one.
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on 3 December 2003
This is a great book, full of good ideas as well as the usual Ballard themes (emasculated accountants, TV cameras, acts of violence, cars and planes). It basically revolves around Jim's life after returning from China, focussing in particular on his relationships with women. I'm enjoying this much more than Empire of the Sun, which I found to be a bit tedious, more than High Rise, and almost as much as Super Cannes.
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on 24 April 2016
Fantastic, gripping book. Would not have know about JG Ballard without seeing High Rise, the most recent film made after one of his books. Will work my way through the whole collection.
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