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Book Reviews

Autumn 1997

A User's Guide to the Millennium
A User's Guide to the Millennium, J. G. Ballard, Paperback,
ISBN 0 00 654821 0,
Reading, theatre-going, viewing artworks, all of these are profoundly subjective experiences. The creator(s) bring to their work their lives and their life experiences, and the recipients -- you -- bring your own experiences, hopes, dreams and prejudices.

When a reviewer, a columnist, and essayist, a critic, whomever, produces a piece about a book, a film, or a school of painting, the reader receives an enhanced experience. A combination of the original creator of the work, the writer who has previewed it for you, and the environment in which the work was presented.

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An essayist has a unique opportunity to address strangers, to think aloud about matters of global importance or personal interest. The essayist can encourage thought, provide amusement, anger, educate, or just plain pass the time.

If you wanted a model for well-written essays here it is. In User's Guide even if you don't agree with what Ballard says, you must admire the way he says it.

Ballard, ex-RAF, ex-technical writer, sometime medical student, turns his thoughts and keyboard to matters as diverse as Hollywood screenwriters, Winnie the Pooh, and Jonathan Miller's The Body in Question.

This book is the perfect for the odd dip whilst you soak in the bath, or you can read the short essays while you sit on those car-parks they laughingly call freeways. Short pieces are wonderful for filling in those odd corners of our lives, and for encouraging us to try something longer by the author.

by Ali Kayn

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