About

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“I have been reading wildly all over the place!”

– Samuel Beckett,
Letter to Thomas MacGreevy
(25 March 1936)

A Guide

Bibliophiles, think of Time’s Flow Stemmed as a chronological reading journal. Books are almost my sole luxury. I am an insatiable and obsessive reader with a desire to read everything important and essential. Without sympathy, intuition, intelligence, comprehension and, most difficultly, grace, I do not see how anything worth reading can truly be read. Those are the qualities I aspire to bring to what I read.

This is almost entirely a literary blog: I write about the books that I read. At the moment I post, on average, a couple of times a week. I rarely write negative reviews because I don’t finish books that fail to move me in some way.

To misquote Beckett, I read widely, all over the place, but this is the ever-changing list of writers I endlessly circle:

Dante, J. G. Ballard, Simone de Beauvoir, Samuel Beckett, Jane Bennett, John Berger, Anita Brookner, Brigid Brophy, Roberto Calasso, Anne Carson, J. M. Coetzee, Stefan Collini, Rachel Cusk, Roger Deakin, Jenny Diski, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mathias Énard, D. J. Enright, Tomas Espedal, Patrick Leigh Fermor, Max Frisch, Pierre Hadot, Peter Handke, Wolfgang Hilbig, Michael Hofmann, Homer, Michel Houellebecq, James Joyce, François Jullien, Franz Kafka, Walter Arnold Kaufmann, Anna Kavan, László Krasznahorkai, Ágota Kristóf, Milan Kundera, Doris Lessing, Clarice Lispector, Christopher Logue, Claudio Magris, Thomas Mann, William Maxwell, Grace Dane Mazur, Ovid, Fernando Pessoa, Marcel Proust, Pascal Quignard, Arno Schmidt, W. G. Sebald, Jorge Semprún, Denton Welch, Christa Wolf, Virginia Woolf, Kate Zambreno

Conversation

This blog isn’t intended to be a monologue. I cannot hope to give a sufficiently nice accounting of my overwhelming debt to all those who have taken the time to comment, to clarify issues and teach me to see what they saw, or sharpened my discrimination by proposing opinions, as well as those kind enough to say nice things. This blog is an attempt at conversation so please jump in.

Why Time’s Flow Stemmed?

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote about the concept of flow, a sense of ecstasy, when time appears to slow and clarity can occur when we step outside the reality of everyday life. He put into words states that older traditions have known for centuries. Reading books is the most popular way of immersion into the flow experience, but listening to music and playing chess also work for me.

The subtitle Wild Readings takes its name from the above quotation. It captures the serendipitous nature of my reading.

More Information for the Extra-Curious

Elsewhere

Recognition always gives a little glow. I do little to publicise Time’s Flow Stemmed, and have only accepted review copies from publishers on two occasions. I don’t consider myself a book reviewer, certainly not a critic, book blogger manqué is the best label a friend once suggested. There have been nevertheless been some pleasing moments in this blog’s history:

Review Policy

Please don’t ask. I don’t like the self-imposed pressure of receiving books from publishers or writers. I admire any writer capable of getting a book published and wish them every success.

Anthony Brown

42 thoughts on “About

  1. 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

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  2. 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.

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    • 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.

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  3. 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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  4. Dear Anthony, I note – with a touch of sadness – your recent absence from the howling desert of Twitter, but would like to wish you a very happy New Year in any case. I have had email issues of late, so may have missed a few updates to your blog, but continue to visit and enjoy same… Anastasia

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  5. Hi,
    I’m a german blogger and discovered your fantastic and visionary blog while taking a walk through english literature blogs.
    I’ll visit you once more and learn much !
    Regards from Herbert Steib

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    • Yes, very rare, the 5% I think. I once signed up to an email discussion list at intp.org but it soon drove me a bit nuts, reading messages with all that intensity!

      Modernism is a house with many rooms and I think literary postmodernism falls into Bradbury’s category of those second generation modernists who were optimistic about its freedoms.

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      • LOL I think INTPs by definition are resistant to joining such groups!
        A broad church, yes. I have just finished reading Kenzaburo Oe’s Death by Water, a book which resists labels of all kinds, I think….

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  6. I found your blog earlier this month. It is a exhilarating blog, and excellently written. I was struggling to find inspiration in regards to what to read next, but reading your blog has given me much to think upon, for which I am very glad.

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  7. 100% agree that if a book doesn’t move you, stop reading it! Of course some do take some time to get into, but I have wasted too many hours on stories that have never gone anywhere!

    Your blog is inspiring. Thanks for keeping at it!

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  8. Hi Anthony, you are invited to participate in my Bookish Time Travel Tag, if you so choose. Check my blog post for more details. Thanks, EnglishLitGeek

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