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their freer culture, and for most of the remainder of her life she lived among them in a tent in the deserts of south Australia, recording their language and dying customs, and keeping copious journals about her own life that were a mixture of truth and lies. Among the Aborigines , who knew her as KabbarIi , "the white grandmother," Bates was less an anthropologist (she had no formal training) than she was a friend, nurse and protectress against the encroaching white civilization. Blackburn's account shows how her self-appointed mission to help them gave Bates a sense of purpose and worth that she had been unable to find in the traditional roles assigned to women in white society. Taken together these two small masterpieces are proof of Holmes' contention that the best biographies rival novels for interest and imagination . Biography can, he writes, "... pose the largest, imaginative questions: how well can we know our fellow human beings; how far can we learn from someone else's struggles about the conditions of our own; what do the intimate circumstances of one particular life tell us about human nature in general?" —. m'iti Reviews by: Mindy Berry, Mary Creger, Brett Foster, Julie Gochenour, Willoughby Johnson, Dawn Klingensmith , Stefani Kronk, Ginny Morgan, Speer Morgan, Brett Rogers, Evelyn Somers, Kris Somerville, Ken Soucy, Jim Steck, Jeff Thomson REMAINDERS & REMINDERS Sam Stowers Recent trips to the bargain tables yielded a fine catch of fiction related to the movies. For instance, I found stacks of two titles by British writer J.G. Ballard published about four years ago: the story collection War Fever (1991, Ferrar , Straus and Giroux) and The Kindness of Women (1991, Farrar, Straus and Giroux), an autobiographical novel based on Ballard's adult life. Steven Spielberg's 1988 film of Ballard 's first autobiographical novel, Empire of the Sun, was based on the author's childhood experiences in a Japanese prison camp. The movie created a large audience for the novel . At the height of its popularity , paperback copies of Empire of the Sun were even available in airport bookstores, a surprise for those who had followed Ballard's work for decades and perhaps pegged him as an avant-gardist and one of the few science fiction masters. If this surplus ofJ.G. Ballard at the bargain table means that many who read Empire of the Sun have missed the recent work, it is a shame. AU three books are intimately connected . Read together, they enrich and illuminate each other. The Kindness of Women continues the story of Jim, the child hero of Empire of the Sun, from an altered perspective. In the first section, Jim, now speaking in the first person, tells the story of the fall of Shanghai , his experience of the camp and his return to England. Jim's memory focuses on his relationship to a slightly older girl, Peggy, who both relies on him and knows she must help him control his "leaping imagination." The novel moves episodically to the London suburbs and Jim's middle age. With startling The Missouri Review · 225 psychological clarity, it delineates the way a traumatic past influences a seemingly safe and secure present . As a boy in China, Jim witnessed atrocious cruelties neither the Japanese nor United States government wiU ever fully acknowledge. The grownup Jim broods over the arms race and photographs of the violence in Vietnam. He mounts an exhibition of wrecked cars, his eyes drawn to the icons of the "lurid mythologies" of the 1960s, passionless pornographic images and flickering televised violence. In one of the stories in War Fever, BaUard's Jim complains that his wartime experiences have taken away his trust in the stabiUty of the world, leaving him forever banished from the "paradise of the ordinary." Ballard has essentially only one subject : the end of the world. The stories in War Fever depict one personal or public apocalypse after another . Civilizations collapse and people go mad, although in most cases these catastrophes are unnoticed by a world obsessed with abstractions and media pseudo-events. Some of the stories ask us to examine partiaUy erased evidence of these cataclysms . An astute television viewer notices news of a brief...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 215-217
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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