Miracles of Life: An Autobiography Shanghai to Shepperton Hardcover – Large Print, 1 Feb 2009
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‘A particular delight of this lyrical autobiography lies in spotting the landscapes and events that appear subtly reconfigured, in Ballard's fiction.’ Observer ‘Critics’ Picks for 2008’
‘The long–awaited memoirs of one of the most interesting British writers.’ Sunday Times ‘Picks for 2008’
‘This book should make yet more converts to a cause that Ballard's devotees have been pleading for years: that here, bafflingly unacknowledged, has been one of the greatest and sharpest imaginations at work in literature.’ Independent on Sunday
‘Unobtrusively well–written…and fascinating.’ Literary Review
'The origins of this extraordinary and wonderful writer are now set out in this pellucid, forgiving, tranquil autobiography…this is a remarkable autobiography, treating events which most of us can barely imagine with tranquil dignity and exactness…Ballard has carried out Matthew Arnold's imprecation to “see life steadily and see it whole”. This is an unforgettable farewell.' The Spectator
'Brilliant and mesmerising…this wonderful, clear-sighted autobiography…has a wisdom and depth that makes you long to hug the author and say '”Thank you” and wish him well.' Daily Mail
'What this brief, modest and occasionally shattering book only glances at is the extraordinary body of work that has flowed from this remarkable life…fascinating…."Miracles of Life" also tells quite another story, unconscious and inadvertent, but finally brave in a way that elevates it to a level of greatness.' The Observer
'Exquisitely written…"Miracles of Life", a subtle, restlessly enquiring work of touching humanity, is Ballard's crowning achievement.' Financial Times
'A jewel…as a writer, he can simply take the breath away.' The Independent
'J.G. Ballard's memoir may be short but it is long on compassion, humour and insight…it is infused with a tremendous generosity of spirit.' Tatler--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'He writes so well on the "surrealism of everyday life".' --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Nearly half the book is devoted to Ballard's first fifteen years, the time he lived in Shanghai and experienced the strange life of an expatriate community as well as internment by the Japanese. This is also the most fluent and vibrant part of the book.
It may well be that writing of his early life in his fiction, especially in Empire of the Sun, means he is well rehearsed. But it is clear these formative years are seared not just into his memory, but also his psyche. The things he saw and experienced have re-appeared time and again in his writings, sometimes filtered, but always from the same roots.
Elsewhere, there is a reticence, a shyness that produces a sketchy feeling, as if we are seeing an early draft. A pioneer of explorations into the sf of `inner space', his own inner space is closely guarded. Yet what he chooses to conceal is revealing in itself. He speaks of family life, for example, but whilst it is clear that his family was the bright sun at the centre of his universe, dimmed for a while by the sudden death of his wife, it is also clear that the rest is nobody's business but his own and theirs. I find this wonderfully refreshing - we are strangers, after all, those of us who read his books.Read more ›
Ballard tells of his childhood in Shanghai, internment there under the Japanese, his university years in England, right through to his writing career and the joys and tragedies he's experienced as a father and husband, and his love of family life.
What makes this book appealing is that it's not only well written and direct, but also that Ballard tells his story with an honesty and poignancy that is so rare in many autobiographies today.
This isn't about Ballard the writer, but about the circumstances and events that shaped and formed his personal values and beliefs.
You don't have to have read Ballard's fiction to enjoy this book either (although his Shanghai reminisces provide a fascinating insight into Empire of the Sun, the novel based on his internment experiences).
What stands out above all else is his enjoyment of childhood and subsequent selfless devotion and enjoyment of family through all the joys and tragedy he experienced.
His life affirming views on childhood, fatherhood, and single parenthood set this book apart from those hundreds of other autobiographies available that only tell of how individuals found (or lost) their fame or fortune.
Ballard's fiction is offbeat and surreal, but completely original - and this autobiography is almost an explanation of where it all came from. Fans of Ballard will find this almost an extension to his fiction.
I could not put this down. The writing is evocative without being wordy, and every page is filled with interesting thoughts.
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 ...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved it - Ballard's voice is that of a man from a English expat tradition whose experiences were at odds with the assumptions he had been brought up with - this gave him a... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Janet Lloyd
Whilst not a big fan of memoirs/autobiographies in general I did enjoy Empire Of The Sun and so had a passing interest in this author. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Tracy Terry
Not only I liked the exciting story of J G Ballard's life (incl. life in China and later in Japanese camp), but I also appreciated his wit and style of writing.Published 24 months ago by Helena
Ballard was the most imaginative writer in English of his generation, a creator of strange, often violent and deracinated worlds. Read morePublished on 1 May 2014 by Terry O'Connor
Cover 3/5 I thought the cover did not sell the book very well. A Shanghai back ground may have been better. Read more
Exquisite biography of an extremely interesting life, written in a typical Ballardian way, making you enjoy every sentence of it.
Thank you, mister Ballard. We will miss you
If you are sensitive, best to avoid this, but its an amazing story - there are some brutal passages which can cause distressPublished on 11 Oct. 2013 by springerlady
Really enjoyed this, even though it basically tells the story narrated in Empire of the Sun and Kindness of Women. Read morePublished on 23 July 2013 by FM