VSL:BOOKS // Read the revealing autobiography of a very private man

The novelist J. G. Ballard has mined experiences from his own life before. Empire of the Sun (1984) detailed his childhood stint in a Japanese prison camp. Ballard’s new memoir, Miracles of Life: Shanghai to Shepperton, describes the rest of his remarkable life.

After the war, Ballard returned to England, studied medicine at Cambridge University, enlisted in the Royal Air Force, and wrote. And if writing about writing is a risky proposition — along the lines of trying to describe your dreams without putting your partner to sleep — Ballard’s medical background has given him a firm and unsentimental bedside manner. (A description of his wife’s early death takes up just two paragraphs.) Typically, Ballard retains his composure even as he writes about his own terminal prostate cancer — and informs us that this might be his last book.

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here.