The Drought

The Drought by James Graham Ballard

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`The world, without rain, is drying up. Rivers are a trickle and we see the shrivelling of the species far from its sources and headed lemming-like for the sea. Time has burst its dams and seeps inside the race-structure with bizarre results A strange and rather wonderful book full of haunting landscapes, phantasmagoria and disaster that clangs on the mind. An impressive novel at any level. Its obscurities and surrealist flourishes only heighten the dreamlike atmosphere.` Guardian

This is the third of Ballard’s informal quartet of books that nod in cursory fashion toward the elements. Like the others, it might be described as a science-fiction novel of the sub-genre ‘disaster’. But like every other Ballard novel it is so much more.

When toxic waste dumped into the oceans is cooked into a molecular layer that prevents evaporation, drought inevitably follows. Not the parched summer of an English countryside, but the blistering furnace of a tropical desert. Society collapses, draining away as quickly as surface water. It is a stark contrast to the amniotic lushness of The Drowned World.

Across this parched landscape a small group of characters play out their lives. They are the usual collection – a mixed bunch of misfits whose casual acquaintance in normal circumstances brings them close together when their inner landscapes become an outer reality. We are shown brief, bright glimpses, like the painful glancing reflections of sunlight from a mirrored surface. And if we dare to approach that mirror, we will see something of ourselves.

There are moments in the book when you can wish a tighter editorial control had been exercised. Some descriptions fail because the language gets in the way – there are only so many time you can use ‘river bed’ in a paragraph before it becomes obtrusive. On the whole, however, the writing shimmers like heat from a baked landscape, offering glimpses and mirages, distortions of a reality that show truths with an unrelenting harshness.

It is also a poetic work. The images and themes are displayed and developed with a concentrated intensity that prefigures the direction Ballard takes with some of his middle period work. Whilst it would not work as a poem, it does show what a poetic sensibility can bring to prose. It certainly makes me look forward to the next book in this chronological re-read of Ballard’s work.

171 pages, published in
James Graham Ballard

A book by James Graham Ballard

James Graham Ballard (English J ames Graham Ballard , literary form JG Ballard ; November 15, 1930 - April 19, 2009) - English writer, one of the largest figures in English literature of the second half of the XX century. Initially, science fiction stories and novels brought him fame, and later also psychopathological thrillers ("Car Crash", "Concrete Island", etc.).  Biography James Ballard was born on November 15, 1930 in Shanghai in the family of a British diplomat. During World War II, he was with his parents in a Shanghai Japanese concentration camp for civilians. After his release, he moved to London, where, after graduating from high school, he entered the British Air Force. Ballard was greatly influenced by the art of surrealism. Since 1956 he began to publish stories in science fiction magazines. In 1961, his first novel, The Wind from Nowhere, came out - like the next two - written in the genre of a disaster novel. In 1970, the tenth collection of Ballard`s stori...

The Drought PDF

James Graham Ballard (English J ames Graham Ballard , literary form JG Ballard ; November 15, 1930 - April 19, 2009) - English writer, one of the largest figures in English literature of the second half of the XX century. Initially, science fiction stories and novels brought him fame, and later also psychopathological thrillers ("Car Crash", "Concrete Island", etc.).  Biography James Ballard was born on November 15, 1930 in Shanghai in the family of a British diplomat. During World War II, he was with his parents in a Shanghai Japanese concentration camp for civilians. After his release, he moved to London, where, after graduating from high school, he entered the British Air Force. Ballard was greatly influenced by the art of surrealism. Since 1956 he began to publish stories in science fiction magazines. In 1961, his first novel, The Wind from Nowhere, came out - like the next two - written in the genre of a disaster novel. In 1970, the tenth collection of Ballard`s stories - "Exhibition of Cruelty" was published, which brought scandalous fame to the writer. The stories included in the book fell only remotely into the NFL category. Ballard had previously been less interested in aspects of the NFL such as progress, technology, the future, foreign civilizations, and so on. - his main focus was on changing human psychology due to the most extraordinary circumstances. "Exhibition of Cruelty" shifted the emphasis of the writer`s prose from psychology to psychopathology: from now on, Ballard`s heroes were possessed by various ideas, phobias and a morbid passion for violence. The culmination of a new period of creativity was the novel "Car Crash" (1973), in which the writer established a sexual connection between a person and car accidents (their process and consequences), bringing the hero to a complete obsession with projecting death in a car accident. In the novel, Ballard, through the lips of his hero, developed death for Elizabeth Taylor, in another story of the same time he wrote a plan for the assassination of Jacqueline Kennedy. An American publisher returned the manuscript back to England marked "The author is clearly pathologically ill." A couple of weeks after he wrote Crash, Ballard rolled over in his car and flew into the oncoming lane. In 1996, David Cronenberg directed the film of the same name for "Car Crash". The novels "Concrete Island" (1973) and "High-Rise" (1975), which also represented the psychological distortion of the consciousness of a person driven into hopeless niches of a big city, came out after "Car Crash". A departure from urban themes were the new novels The Factory of Endless Dreams in 1979 (a surreal extravaganza of an erotic nature), Hello America, Empire of the Sun (an autobiographical novel based on which Steven Spielberg directed the film of the same name in 1987). Since the 1980s. Ballard`s new theme is the disclosure of the dark sides of the human subconscious in the actions of ordinary people who have absorbed the microdoses of violence carefully measured by the author - the novels "Mad" (1988), "Cocaine Nights" (1994; and his more developed version of "Supercans", 2000), "People Millennium "(2003). Ballard is recognized as one of the leading English language stylists and visionaries. He is willingly interviewed on topical topics, although the writer himself appears little in public, does not participate in any social or literary activities in Great Britain. Since the 1970s. Ballard lives in the London suburb of Shepperton. The last novel ("The Kingdom of God") was published in 2006. Ballard`s autobiography Miracles of Life was released in January 2008, and in an interview with The Sunday Times, Ballard said he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in mid-2006, prompting him to write his autobiography. J. Ballard`s website: http://www.jgballard.com/