Finally (2013) a room fit to be called a library ...

Finally (2013) a room fit to be called a library …

To quote Samuel Beckett’s letter to Thomas MacGreevy (25th March 1936), I have been reading wildly all over the placeTime’s Flow Stemmed is a notebook of my wild readings.

As soon as I figured out that letters could be made into words I became an avid reader. Sometimes I annotate my books, at other times use notebooks to record aspects of my reading that I wish to preserve. Times Flow Stemmed is an extension of that phrase-hunting or what Beckett called the demon of note-snatching. This blog is a complement to several full notebooks containing notes taken from the books I am reading.

In fiction I have a proclivity for novels that engage with modernism, often in translation, mostly economical, austere fiction that doesn’t seek resolution. My nonfictional reading covers literary criticism, philosophy, critical theory, and sociology, with an aesthetic compulsion that lures me to artist’s (including photographer’s) monographs. I haunt galleries as though they were second homes, spending hours with the paintings that I love.

There are writers that I read toward completion. My list of favourite authors is recast as I discover new authors and outgrow others.

At the moment, these are my old chestnuts: Dante Alighieri, J. G. Ballard, Samuel Beckett, Jane Bennett, John Berger, Thomas Bernhard, Roberto Calasso, Anne Carson, Hélène Cixous, J.M. Coetzee, Simon Critchley, Roger Deakin, Jenny Diski, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Marguerite Duras, Geoff Dyer, Pierre Hadot, Peter Handke, Homer, Michel Houellebecq, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Søren Kierkegaard, László Krasznahorkai, Clarice Lispector, Friedrich Nietzsche, Atiq Rahimi, Susan Sontag, Christa Wolf, Virginia Woolf, Kate Zambreno.

Though this blog is mostly concerned with literature, occasionally writing about other passions such as paintings, film noir, music, and travel is unavoidable. This blog, like all blogs, is a reflection of its creator.

When I began this blog back in 2009 I adopted Wislawa Szymborska’s words as a manifesto of sorts:

At first I thought I’d be writing real reviews, that is, in each case I’d describe the nature of the book in hand, place it in some larger context, then give the reader to understand it was better than some and worse than others. But I soon realized that I couldn’t write reviews and didn’t even want to. That basically I am and wish to remain a reader, an amateur, and a fan, unburdened by the weight of ceaseless evaluation. Sometimes the book itself is my main subject; at other times it’s just a pretext for spinning out various looses associations.


The purpose of Time’s Flow Stemmed is to spin out these loose associations based on what I’m reading and to participate in a conversation about literature, philosophy and critical theory. I am always pleased to have the opportunity to converse on TwitterLibraryThing, but my favourite are your comments here on Time’s Flow Stemmed. I’d be thrilled if you comment on my posts, ask questions, object, carry on the conversation. Or feel free to send me an email at timesflowstemmed AT gmail DOT com.


Named in the Guardian, in 2014, as one of Mark Thwaite’s ‘top 5′ literary blogs

3:AM Magazine Blog of the Year 2011

Masters in English 100 Essential Sites for Voracious Readers

Contributions on Other Sites

A conversation with David Winters at 3:AM magazine (February 2012): ‘Modernism Then and Now’.



Review policy

I have accepted a couple of publisher-provided books before and can’t say I like the pressure (admittedly self-imposed) to read and review them. It is rare that I find enough reading time, and I want to be able to drift from book to book as the mood grabs me. I admire any author able to write a whole book and wish them all success.

16 thoughts on “About

  1. Wow, I just discovered your blog after being on wordpress myself for over a year. Love the ideas and content here. Can’t wait to read more!

    • Thank you. I added your blog’s feed to my watch list today. It appears we have uncannily similar film tastes, judging by your recent post. Yes, that is my library.

  2. I am not a blogger so far; yet I love your ideas and let us hopefully communicate more on what we read. Not just naming books and authors
    Krishnan Unni.P

  3. Thanks. Love the amateur ethic and the list of favourite writers … Big Beckett fan myself. Lots of reading for me here! Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox.

  4. Szymborska’s quoted manifesto is exactly right—there’s something deadening about reviewing. For me, at least, the felt need to review takes over and inhibits actually lingering with the work (whatever the medium). It seems like you’re the same. Much better to follow out the thoughts brought to the surface by reading than to try to find the exact balance of praise and blame to dole. (And I find that reading such responses is much better advertisement, anyway—I’d rather find the stimulus of new thoughts than the stimulus of praise.)

    I’ve written one review proper on my blog. It’s a failure. I wrote it only because I had come up with what I thought (and think) is a pretty clever bit of wordplay—the only redeeming quality it has.

    I’ve read some of your posts, and enjoyed them. I’ll be stopping by more often.

    • Thank you, pleased that you enjoyed some posts here.

      Aside from a few of the bloggers I include in my blog roll. I don’t read reviews much either. Reading is so subjective, so personal, that straight book reviews are dead as soon as the words hit the page. I’ve come to trust some readers as having a taste broadly similar to my own, but sufficiently different to introduce me to new writers frequently.

  5. What a delightful library! I myself aspire to have something remotely close to this some day. But for the time being it seems rather improbable.
    By the by, this blog is a constant source of learning for me, Anthony.
    Also, it inspires me to read more!

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