6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Miracles of Life (Hardcover)
I won't give a synopsis since this has already been done ably by other reviewers. Why this autobiography 'worked' for me is that Mr Ballard has reflected his past experiences to his present situation so movingly, and with characteristic modesty. As a young man he considered his unusual childhood to be of little interest to anyone; only late on in his life has it provided him with explicit material for fiction - and now, with this account - for fact - only latterly has he recognised that he had unconsciously used his childhood experiences as literary motifs.
Judging by his enthusiasm that came through in the middle part of the book, I suspect that Mr Ballard derived most satisfaction in his life from raising his three children on his own following the tragic death of his wife whilst on holiday - an event that he describes briefly, yet deeply movingly.
He doesn't say a great deal about his actual writing (apart from, in his earlier years, writing a short story between dropping off his children at school in the morning and picking them up in the afternoon) although he does refer interestingly to some of his books and short stories, and to his literary acquaintances. With some exceptions (Kingsley Amis, Michael Moorcock, Ian Sinclair and Will Self) he appears to have been more 'at home' with avante garde artists than with fellow writers.
I spent some time in a British expatriate community as a youngster, albeit some twenty years after Mr Ballard's time, so I could relate to this part of his life. I'm familiar with the type of people he observed, although I don't recall the grown-ups as leading nearly such dissipated life styles, neither did I witness such extremes of poverty and affluence as existed in pre-war Shanghai ... and neither was I interned by 'the enemy' for two years.
Miracles of Life is not in the slightest bit pretentious, it is simply written and lacks in any real rancour, which is so refreshing, given some of the back-biting one comes to expect from autobiographies these days, and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in what lies behind a considerable writer.