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Title: The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard
Author: Jerry Ballard
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
A massive collection of short stories by the author Jerry Ballard. Mainly from the 60’s and 70’s, Ballard’s stories one and all revolved around broken characters; broken mentally, broken physically, broken emotionally, broken psychologically, broken in any way you can imagine. The world is dystopian, hope has been removed and the inexorable pessimistic fate for humanity cannot be thwarted.
Ballard was a qualified writer, ie, he knew his craft and did it well. However, his style and subject matter destroyed any positives for me in that aspect. In the over 600 pages I read I would have expected SOME variety in the stories but nope, uniform brokenness was what Ballard thought and what he wrote. By the time I’d decided to DNF this, I wasn’t even depressed, I was simply bored. I imagine I felt like what an art connoisseur would have felt like if Edvard Munch had only painted Scream style paintings.
At the 25% mark I was raging inside. The brokenness of the characters really had gotten to me and I was sick that Ballard could write such people over and over and over. Every man was a coward in one way or another, every woman a harpy or drone. Then like I said earlier, I just got bored. You can only read the same type of character and story so many times before it stops having an impact.
Originally, this book was published in 2 separate volumes and honestly, I think that was the correct choice. This 1 volume was just too big. Maybe if you wanted to slowly read a story here and there every day or week and you could set this down whenever you wanted, you’d not get bored. I still would have gotten bored though and there was no way I was going to spend a prolonged time period with this author’s outlook. One week of reading it every day, approximately 100 pages a day (anywhere from 4-10 stories), was enough.
Ballard also hasn’t aged well. The wonders of psychology would solve all the problems, but of course with Ballard that was misused so it would create all the problems. In one story psychologists had been outlawed by a right-wing world order and the main character had gone to jail for trying to help someone in an underground psychology session. I don’t see Ballard becoming an enduring author. To the dustbins of history with him I say!
Finally, I couldn’t help but compare this massive collection to the volumes of short stories by Asimov that I read back in ’16. That was also a 2 volume collection, Volume One and Volume Two and together they about equaled the same number of pages as this. Their tone however, was much more positive and upbeat, which allowed the more negative stories in that collection to be more of a savory contrast, like sweet and sour chicken. Ballard was just sour chicken. That is only yummy if you’re a sick, sick individual.