J.G. Ballard Interview by John Hughes
The following interview with J.G. Ballard took place in the spring of 1996. It was recorded on to micro-cassette off speakerphone on a 6 a.m. call from the 4AD Records office in Los Angeles, CA to J.G. Ballard at his home in Shepperton, England. The tapes were transcribed in New York in 2005.
I contacted J.G. Ballard through a friend at Zone books. Zone had recently published a Ballard essay; an experimental dictionary of words for the future. I got his home number and called him to set up the interview below. The original plan was to discuss Rushing to Paradise. The interview opens, however, with the revelation that David Cronenberg was planning to release Crash at the Cannes Film Festival, summer’96.
In that respect, the interview has two parts. The first addresses the Crash movie release and the second, Rushing to Paradise.
The Ballard stories I always think of whenever I hear his name are “The Enormous Space,” “Report on an Unidentified Space Station,” and “War Fever,” all of which are included in the collection pictured above. The first two stories I studied as an undergraduate, not in a creative writing class but in a literature course called “Eccentric Spaces and Spacialities.” Not “space” as in “outer space,” but as in “the distance between here and there, or “the place I call home,” etc. We read Ballard alongside Gaston Bachelard (Poetics of Space), Marilynne Robinson (Housekeeping), excerpts from Dante and Homer (descents into Hades), Jules Verne (Journey to the Center of the Earth) and plenty more that I’m forgetting just now. The third story, “War Fever,” was on my radar when I was editing The Apocalypse Reader, but my query about reprint rights wasn’t returned by FSG until well after the book had been finalized, and sent to press. But it’s a magnificent story–they all are.