Supposedly contemptible components
Zadie Smith on Ballard (in her ceaselessly quoteworthy Guardian piece/book excerpt in response to David Shields' Reality Hunger):
This year Ballard's stories in particular have been a revelation to me, being at once well made, full of the supposedly contemptible components – plot, setting, character – and yet irreducibly strange in proportion. It's a marvel how implacably and consistently weird he managed to be despite appearing to use all the normal tools at the disposal of any English short-story writer. All in all there is something a little shaming in reading Ballard: you have to face the fact that there exist writers with such fresh imaginations they can't write five pages without stumbling on an alternate world.
It blooms with all these great offhand lists:
Every now and then a writer renews your faith. I'm looking around my desk at this moment for books that have had this effect on me in the not-too-distant past: Bathroom and Television by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli, Number9Dream by David Mitchell, Hilary Mantel's An Experiment in Love, Dennis Cooper's My Loose Thread, The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek, the collected short stories of JG Ballard. [...]
Off the top of my head: David Markson's Reader's Block, Peter Handke's The Weight of the World, Raymond Queneau's Exercises in Style, Georges Perec's Species of Spaces and Other Pieces and Kafka's own Blue Octavo Notebooks . . .