On Wriitng – Z is for Zeitgeist – and to hell with all of that

Some books are of their time, and some books are out of time.

There are many great novels that either predict the zeitgeist, or drop from the sky straight into the heart of collective psyche of a culture. There are hundreds of books to choose from and we all have our favourites, but what interests me more are the novels that don’t quite fit into the fad, or tap into the trend. They sit somewhere outside the transient and the ephemeral.

Of course, books that catch the zeitgeist may also survive their moment and develop timeless appeal and universal meaning, but I love works that fly in the face of fashion and kick against the pricks of convention.

The writers of such work are pioneers operating in hostile territory and their books often defy creative, stylistic and linguistic categorisation. They can be considered ahead or behind the times. Their work is misinterpreted, misrepresented and misunderstood, and can invoke outrage, confusion, frustration and disgust. But the anger and rejection tells  us so much more about our culture than any passing fad.

As Robert Frost laments in his magnificent poem, The Road not Taken,

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less traveled by

And that has made all the difference


So here are a few of my most loved rabble rousers… what are yours?

Crash by J.G. Ballard

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkener

Ullysses by  James Joyce

Lanark by Alasdair Gray

Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

The Cement Garden by Ian Mc Ewan

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

The Wasp Factory by Ian Banks

Naked Lunch by William S Burroughs


FINALIST – THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE - PAINTING BY NUMBERS – Tom Gillespie’s critically acclaimed, surreal thriller is available in digital and printed formats from    Amazon UK/Amazon US and all good online stores.




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5 Responses to On Wriitng – Z is for Zeitgeist – and to hell with all of that

  1. John Wiswell says:

    I don’t know if I have any rabblerousers that I adore. Some socially critical books, to be sure, like Huxley’s Brave New World, and books that upturned conventions, like Tristram Shandy. I’m sure there must be some troublemakers I’ve adored, but darned if I can think of them this morning.

    • Tom Gillespie says:

      I would say those two were definitely a couple of trouble makers… and a great addition to the list..

  2. Hmmm, I can’t think of any “rabble rousers” that I’ve read that I just loved. I’ve read Ulysses and Brave New World… but didn’t particularly care for either. Maybe it’s because I’m partial to the fantasy/sci-fi genre… shrug, or I’m just not very good at identifying that type of book. If I like it, I don’t really tend to care what other people think of it.

    Happy last day of A-Zing!

    • Tom Gillespie says:

      There are plenty of sci fi and fantasy creative rabble rousers out there.. Philip K Dick should be on my list.. along with Ray Bradbury Anthony Burgess, Terry Pratchett There are so many outsiders who shout in through the window at all us folks falling asleep in our chairs inside..

  3. Helen Howell says:

    Oh yeah Terry Pratchett! ^__^ I once had a story I wrote likened to his style

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