Jimmy Ballard, Rock Festival Star
David Pringle: I've just heard that Paul Ableman has died at the age of 79. There's a slight Ballardian relevance in that JGB probably knew him in the 1960s/70s.
In 1981, Paul Ableman reviewed Ballard's Hello America in The Spectator. In the review [30th May 1981, p25-26] he mentioned the Phun City open-air rock concert of 1970 at which he had been present: "Some years ago, for reasons which now elude me, I visited a pop concert where an amplified voice kept bawling aggressively that we would shortly be addressed by 'the greatest writer in the whole world, Jimmy Ballard.' Well, I can now reveal, at lower amplification, that he isn't...
"Mr Ballard has no interest in things like personality, pain consciousness, ambition, love or any of the other central concerns of classical fiction...
"The morality of a work of literature is not, in my opinion, the proper concern of a reviewer. Mr Ballard is entitled to seek the bubble -- sales -- even in the vortex of the mushroom cloud but, by the same token, I feel justified in stating my opinion that the breezy attitude to nuclear weapons which informs this book can only enhance their sinister glamour and thus constitutes a disservice to the human race."
Lyle Hopwood: But the important question is, did 'Jimmy Ballard' go to Phun City?
David Pringle: Yep, he sure did. For one day, at any rate, with his three kids in tow. JGB fictionalized the experience in The Kindness of Women.