“I have been reading wildly all over the place!”
– Samuel Beckett,
Letter to Thomas MacGreevy
(25 March 1936)
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
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
- My Library, including a list of favourite writers.
- Some reading lists.
- Favourite second-hand bookshop: Peter Ellis
- Favourite bookshop: London Review Bookshop.
- Favourite literary magazine: Music & Literature.
- Favourite publisher: Seagull Books.
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:
- Named by Mark Thwaite, in the Guardian, as one of the ‘top 5’ literary blogs
- Named as 3:AM magazine Blog of the Year 2011
- Masters in English 100 Essential Sites for Voracious Readers
- A conversation with David Winters at 3:AM magazine: Modernism Then and Now
- A Month of Max Frisch: Notes from a Reader’s Diary in Issue 1.4 of The Scofield
- Talking: ‘Why I Read: The Profound Pleasure of Literature’
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.