Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan and other stories

Anthony Burgess greatly admired J.G. Ballard, and wrote the introduction to The Best Short Stories of J.G. Ballard, which includes my personal favourite ‘Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan’. There is also ‘The Atrocity Exhibition’, ‘The Drowned Giant’, ‘Plan for the Assassination of Jacqueline Kennedy’, ‘The Garden of Time’ and ‘The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race’, among others.

The collection was first published in 1978. Burgess writes in the introduction:

The first thing to say about J.G. Ballard is not that he is among our finest writers of science fiction but that he is among our finest writers of fiction tout court….Ballard himself might retort that, granted the first claim, the second is redundant….Ballard considers that the kind of limitation that most contemporary fiction accepts is immoral, a shameful consequence of the rise of the bourgeois novel. Language exists less to record the actual than to liberate the imagination. To go forward, as Ballard does, is…to go back — scientific apocalypse and pre-scientific myth meet in the same creative region….Ballard’s characters are creatures of the earth….Why devise fanciful new planets when we have our own planet, on which strange things are already happening, on which the ultimate strange happening is linked to present actualities or latencies by cause and effect?….A new kind of man evolves, enslaved by engines of…persuasion to ever-increasing consumption….The mediator between that world and this is a credible human being in a classic situation — tragical-stoical: he fights change on our behalf, but he cannot win….Two of the most beautiful stories in the world canon of short fiction…are [‘The Drowned Giant’ and ‘The Garden of Time’].

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