Home » Writing » J G Ballard » I’ve just read ‘Tough Guys Don’t Dance’ by Norman Mailer and ‘Super-Cannes’ by J G Ballard.

I’ve just read ‘Tough Guys Don’t Dance’ by Norman Mailer and ‘Super-Cannes’ by J G Ballard.

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Norman Mailer

18/02/2003

I’ve just read ‘Tough Guys Don’t Dance’ by Norman Mailer and ‘Super-Cannes’ by J G Ballard. I’m now back with Mailer:

Norman Mailer’s ‘Harlot’s Ghost’

Author’s Note

‘Some good novels can start far from one’s immediate life and derive instead from ones cultural experience and ones ongoing imaginative faculty. Over the years, that faculty can build nests of context on to themes that attract it.’

I pluck these quotes to justify my kind of writing (the currently unpublished, egotistical ramblings of an obsessive lifetime diarist). I liked this:

‘Novelists not only live their own lives but develop other characters within themselves who never reveal their particular intelligence to the novelist’s conscious mind until, perchance, the day they come into one’s working literary preoccupations.’

I’m full of them, full of it and always on the look out for more; you’re probably in here too (the fiction that is, not the non-fiction). Talking of which, I liked the way this was put:

‘Some non-fiction awakens the imagination. Its personages take on the lustre of good fictional characters, that is, they seem as real and complex as men and women we know intimately.’

This is how I’d describe David Waller’s non-fiction account of the Mercedes-Chrysler merger ‘Wheels on Fire’

It reads as well as a novel in characterisation, milieu and narrative structure. Go and buy it; I’ll get him to send you a signed copy if you like it. I did, even though he’s a mate of 22 years standing. He then said this (Norman Mailer that is).

‘It is the author’s contention that good fiction – if the writer can achieve it – is more real, that is, more nourishing to our sense of reality, than non-fiction.’

Can I feel the same way about visualising a film?

‘Novelists have a unique opportunity – they can create superior if imaginative histories out of an enhancement of the real, the unverified, and the wholly fictional.’

And just to prove I can fill a page with cuttings without mentioning a school-run, a swimming trip, the state of the my health, the health of the family, the weather (ooh isn’t it warm for the time of year) or the height of the tide as I write on the pebbles 152 yards from where I am sitting, here’s another quote. I might need these one day. Help yourself, they’re all from Norman Mailer and all in the ‘Author’s Note’ to ‘Harlot’s Ghost.’

‘I have done enough indifferent writing myself over the years, and have spent so much time contemplating why it is bad, that by now I can read another author’s work and penetrate on occasion to what he is or, even more important, is not really saying.’

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