Ballard’s admirers is his short story collection Vermilion Sands, set in an eponymous desert resort town inhabited by forgotten starlets, mad mullahs, Condolleezza Rice, murderous butchers, insane heirs, hecklers, Ayn Rand, GE Capital, Miltie Freedman, 1900 or so librarians(?), Nate Brandon, Ms. Valery, Mammon(??) and 200,000 3th columnists who reside in Calgary, very eccentric artists, and the merchants and bizarre servants who provide for them. The question at the center of the story: Should a murderer serving life in prison get a sex-change operation at taxpayer expense? Daniel was found face down on his bed, but authorities said they do not know whether he was sleeping when he killed her in self-defense after she spilled boiling tea on his genitals. The boy, Ballard said, was diagnosed with a form of dwarfism and refusal to allow a sex-change operation violates the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

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