Bim Adewunmi shares her admiration for the British novelist and essayist:
“Smith, now 40, is a confidently quiet writer – sly and witty and acid sharp – who always draws a world that looks like the real one; it’s a welcome skill set in the often monochrome world of UK publishing. Away from long-form, Smith also writes short stories, interviews and journalism (I urge you to read her warm profile of comedians Key and Peele). But it’s her essays – covering ground from familial loss to comedy, advertising and city living – that I love the best. She’s smart, and she doesn’t hide it.”
“It is with a certain bitterness that one must admit to oneself that the late S.S. Titanic had a ‘good press.’ It is perhaps because I have no great practice of daily newspapers (I have never seen so many of them together lying about my room) that the white spaces and the big lettering of the headlines have an incongruously festive air to my eyes, a disagreeable effect of a feverish exploitation of a sensational God-send. And if ever a loss at sea fell under the definition, in the terms of a bill of lading, of Act of God, this one does, in its magnitude, suddenness and severity; and in the chastening influence it should have on the self-confidence of mankind.”
“Ballard was rather vocal about his provocative vision of the future during his lifetime, thanks to his interest in media and technology. The author envisioned a reality that has eerily manifested in many ways already, which we capture in these 20 quotes about Ballard’s vision for the future.”
I had such a mistaken idea about Anita Brookner’s novels, until I picked up The Latecomers in a secondhand shop about 10 years ago, and read the first wonderfully concrete sentence. “Hartmann, a voluptuary, lowered a spoonful of brown sugar crystals into his coffee cup, then placed a square of bitter chocolate on his tongue, and, while it was dissolving, lit his first cigarette.” Somehow – I think because of the title of her Booker winner Hotel du Lac – I’d expected something ladylike, lavender-scented, prissy and precious; I knew as soon as I opened my eyes to her words that this writing was everything opposite to that.
Caleb Sivyer has just established an online resource for news, events, and publications on the writer and journalist Angela Carter. You can follow the Angela Carter Group on Twitter and Facebook. Take a look and see what you think!
Will Self rates the film as an adaptation of Ballard’s vision
Of the film adaptations that had been made of his work during his lifetime, JG Ballard vouchsafed to me that he liked Jonathan Weiss’s version of The Atrocity Exhibition the best. It was hardly a surprising verdict; the movie, released in 2000, eschews any of the easy certainties of narrative for a furious collage of extreme images – urban wastelands, nuclear explosions, penises rhythmically pumping in and out of vaginas – all to the accompaniment of a voice-over comprising near-verbatim passages from the quasi-novel. And as the book is a furious collage of extreme images, the film is of the highest fidelity imaginable.
Ballard also liked Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Empire of the Sun, although more, one suspects, because of the opportunity he got to be an extra in a party scene that was set in a simulacrum of his parents’ interwar home in Shanghai. So tickled was he by this Möbius-looping of reality and the imagined that Ballard wrote about the episode in another roman-à-clef, The Kindness of Women. When it was announced in the early 1990s that David Cronenberg was to adapt Ballard’s apocalyptic tale of autogeddon, Crash, and moreover set it in Toronto, I was so exercised that I phoned the writer. “You can’t let him do that, Jim,” I protested (or words to that effect). “Crash is one of the great London novels. The city demands that it be set right here!” He was having none of it and gently talked me down: the point of the novel was to describe a global phenomenon, one Ballard termed “the death of affect”. It was quite irrelevant which city the film was set in – the important point was that Cronenberg’s affectless vision and planar cinematography, all lit at operating-theatre strength, strongly resonated with Ballard. (more…)