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

Time’s Flow Stemmed is a chronological reading journal and commonplace book. A quick glance through the archives and writers that I read will give any reader an opportunity to decide whether we share reading interests, and whether the style of this blog is to his or her taste.

None of us can claim to be truly well-read these days. Some degree of filtering is essential. I do believe however there are good and bad books, and that the former are becoming fewer and fewer (it is entirely possibly this is a natural byproduct of getting older). I don’t read for pure entertainment, but to have my eyes opened to different worlds of feeling to my own (Tim Parks wrote something along these lines), or to borrow the famous Kafka quote, I try to read only the kind of books that wound or stab me in some way.

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 constantly aspire, and inevitably fail, 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.

Conversation

This blog isn’t intended to be a monologue. I cannot hope to give a sufficiently generous 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.

Review Policy

Please don’t ask. I’ve no interest in receiving ‘free’ books and 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.

48 thoughts on “About

    • 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.

  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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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

    • 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.

      • 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….

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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

  10. Anthony, I just discovered your site and I am so glad to have found it. It is wonderful. Thank you so much. As it happens, I have recently been thinking that I must somehow find a way to make peace with the passage of time. I will be 73 next month – “Time’s winged chariot,” etc. Your site has already helped me in this quest.

  11. Regarding your list of the Bowes & Bowes series ‘Studies in Modern European Literature and Thought’. I’ve been collecting them for about 10 years. I have 25, with the latest found yesterday (Malraux). You may have already seen my covers on Flickr.

    A couple of things:

    ‘Romanov’ should be ‘Rozanov’ (no doubt a pesky auto-spell-corrector).
    Charles Peguy and 49. Samuel Beckett should be 1965 not 1956 (numbers transposed).

    In addition to the Fernando Pessoa, Nietzsche, Robert Musil, and Leopardi which you reference, there are 4 other titles listed as in preparation on the back flap of various titles in my collection, all of which then disappear in later back flap lists, presumably abandoned:

    Karl Barth by D. M. McKinnon
    Berdyaev by Morris Philipson
    Karl Jaspers by Werner Brock
    Remy de Gourmont by Garnet Rees

    Cheers,
    Ben

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