Time Passes

photo by Jordan Holmbeck, via Unsplash
  1. Read with me
  2. Constructed dialects
  3. Inescapable personal darkness
  4. Previous editions
  5. inlooking: Eating trees
  6. A last subtle reminder about the class I’m hawking here


  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers: I love this book. It’s a stunning piece of writing and portrait of a person and place and time. But it is wrenching, just so difficult. It will wring you out. But it’s well worth it.
  • Riddley Walker, Russell Hoban: One of my favorite novels. A perfectly constructed post-apocalyptic world that is that rare thing for post-apocalypses: far-out enough to be truly strange, while retaining enough elements of its past to let the reader draw the connection to their own time. I’m just not sure it’s wise to give everyone the idea they can write a whole novel in a constructed dialect. Unless they’re Paul Kingsnorth. (Actually, I would love to see more writers trying this kind of thing.)
  • Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon: Apparently, no one but me has ever actually finished reading this book. They’re missing out.
  • Lanark, Alasdair Gray: Another far-out selection. Not sure I’ll ever get anyone to even try to read this. A friend describes it as “one of the great obscure-yet-influential masterpieces of British literature, and like most of them it is problematic and peculiar and far less popular than the things it inspired.” How could I resist? It’s difficult, but rewarding. And surprisingly touching, for a book that commits so insistently to obscurantism. (There’s that word again: obscure.)
  • Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry: Updating Graham Greene’s “whiskey priest,” Lowry’s whiskey consul is one of the best portrayals of inescapable personal darkness I’ve ever read.
  • A Fan’s Notes, Frederick Exley: As Wikipedia puts it, this novel concerns “a longtime failure who makes good by finally writing a memoir about his pained life.” Riotous (along the lines of Martin Amis’s Money, another candidate), if you find alcoholism and inescapable personal darkness entertaining. (Are you detecting a theme here?)
photo by Clark Rasmussen via Unsplash

inlooking: Mountainous




Mostly a writer. Contents: “architecture, nature, alcohol, space travel, rock ’n’ roll” and boyreporter.com for past work

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Mark Wallace

Mark Wallace

Mostly a writer. Contents: “architecture, nature, alcohol, space travel, rock ’n’ roll” and boyreporter.com for past work

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