Stoner by John WilliamsStoner by John Williams

Stoner

byJohn WilliamsIntroduction byJohn Mcgahern

Paperback | June 20, 2006

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William Stoner is born at the end of the nineteenth century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar’s life, so different from the hardscrabble existence he has known. And yet as the years pass, Stoner encounters a succession of disappointments: marriage into a “proper” family estranges him from his parents; his career is stymied; his wife and daughter turn coldly away from him; a transforming experience of new love ends under threat of scandal. Driven ever deeper within himself, Stoner rediscovers the stoic silence of his forebears and confronts an essential solitude.

John Williams’s luminous and deeply moving novel is a work of quiet perfection. William Stoner emerges from it not only as an archetypal American, but as an unlikely existential hero, standing, like a figure in a painting by Edward Hopper, in stark relief against an unforgiving world.
John Williams (1922-1994) was born and raised in northeast Texas. Despite a talent for writing and acting, Williams flunked out of a local junior college after his first year. He reluctantly joined the war effort, enlisting in the Army Air Corps, and managing to write a draft of his first novel while there. Once home, Williams found a ...
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Title:StonerFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8 × 5 × 0.7 inPublished:June 20, 2006Publisher:New York Review BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1590171993

ISBN - 13:9781590171998

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from As simple as it should be The story of a man and its life. From start to finish. A simple, quiet and deep life, from which, everyone of us, has something to learn. Beautiful in its simplicity. Not a single page is a filler, it goes straight to the point, to the heart of matter in every single sentence. I have been captured from the first line, and I did not emerge again from the pages until I finished the last one.
Date published: 2017-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quiet Perfection "Sometimes, immersed in his books, there would come to him the awareness of all that he did not know, of all that he had not read; and the serenity for which he labored was shattered as he realized the little time he had in life to read so much, to learn what he had to know." The back of the book describes Stoner as a work of “quiet perfection”, and I can’t think of a better description. This book is perfection. It’s pure and simple, there are no bells or whistles here. It’s the story of one man’s life, and the ebbs and flows that are a part of simply being human. William Stoner is born into a farming family, and eventually goes off to the University of Columbia to take his degree is agricultural studies. During his requisite English course, he discovers his passion for books. With the encouragement of his Professor and mentor, Archer Sloan, Stoner changes his degree to English studies, drastically changing the course of his life. Stoner grows into the scholarly life, eventually becoming an English professor, while working on his own writing. He is married, thought not happily, and has a child. He develops friendships and feuds, suffers losses and enjoys a great love. These are the mundane parts of life, yet Williams has crafted them so compellingly. It’s hard to articulate what makes this book so beautiful, but it’s a rich telling of an ordinary man’s life. For a stoic man, Stoner always remains true to himself, often following his heart or morals rather than following the path of expectation. If you’re looking for a shocking work of drama, turn the other way. If you would like to examine the human condition and explore the sum of one man’s simple life, this is for you. Williams asks the fundamental question that we all ponder as we move through life, day by day – what makes a life, a life? I couldn’t put this book down, and I finished knowing I had read something truly special.
Date published: 2017-03-15

Editorial Reviews

“A beautiful, sad, utterly convincing account of an entire life…I’m amazed a novel this good escaped general attention for so long.”  —Ian McEwan“One of the great unheralded 20th-century American novels …Almost perfect.” —Bret Easton Ellis“Stoner is a novel of an ordinary life, an examination of a quiet tragedy, the work of a great but little-known writer.” —Ruth Rendell“A beautiful and moving novel, as sweeping, intimate, and mysterious as life itself.” —Geoff Dyer“I have read few novels as deep and as clear as Stoner. It deserves to be called a quiet classic of American literature.” —Chad Harbach“The most beautiful book in the world.”  —Emma Straub"A poignant campus novel from the mid-'60s—an unjustly neglected gem." —Nick Hornby, People“The book begins boldly with a mention of Stoner’s death, and a nod to his profound averageness: ‘Few students remembered him with any sharpness after they had taken his courses.’ By the end, though, Williams has made Stoner’s disappointing life into such a deep and honest portrait, so unsoftened and unromanticized, that it’s quietly breathtaking.”—The Boston Globe   “Williams’ descriptions of the experience of reading both elucidate and evince the pleasures of literary language; the ‘minute, strange, and unexpected combinations of letters and words’ in which Stoner finds joy are re-enacted in Williams’ own perfect fusion of words.”—n+1   “Stoner, by John Williams, is a slim novel, and not a particularly joyous one. But it is so quietly beautiful and moving, so precisely constructed, that you want to read it in one sitting and enjoy being in it, altered somehow, as if you have been allowed to wear an exquisitely tailored garment that you don’t want to take off.”—The Globe and Mail    “One of the great forgotten novels of the past century. I have bought at least 50 copies of it in the past few years, using it as a gift for friends...The book is so beautifully paced and cadenced that it deserves the status of classic.”—Colum McCann, Top 10 Novels, The Guardian   “Stoner is undeniably a great book, but I can also understand why it isn’t a sentimental favorite in its native land. You could almost describe it as an anti-Gatsby...Part of Stoner’s greatness is that it sees life whole and as it is, without delusion yet without despair...The novel embodies the very virtues it exalts, the same virtues that probably relegate it, like its titular hero, to its perpetual place in the shade. But the book, like professor William Stoner, isn’t out to win popularity contests. It endures, illumined from within.”—Tim Kreider, The New Yorker   “It’s simply a novel about a guy who goes to college and becomes a teacher. But it’s one of the most fascinating things that you’ve ever come across.”—Tom Hanks, Time   “Stoner is written in the most plainspoken of styles...Its hero is an obscure academic who endures a series of personal and professional agonies. Yet the novel is utterly riveting, and for one simple reason: because the author, John Williams, treats his characters with such tender and ruthless honesty that we cannot help but love them.”—Steve Almond, Tin House   “The best book I read in 2007 was Stoner by John Williams. It’s perhaps the best book I’ve read in years.”—Stephen Elliott, The Believer   “John Williams’s Stoner is something rarer than a great novel—it is a perfect novel, so well told and beautifully written, so deeply moving, that it takes your breath away.”—The New York Times Book Review   “Williams didn’t write much compared with some novelists, but everything he did was exceedingly fine...it’s a shame that he’s not more often read today...But it’s great that at least two of his novels [Stoner, Butcher’s Crossing] have found their way back into print.”—The Denver Post   “A masterly portrait of a truly virtuous and dedicated man.”—The New Yorker   “Why isn’t this book famous...Very few novels in English, or literary productions of any kind, have come anywhere near its level for human wisdom or as a work of art.”—C. P. Snow   “Serious, beautiful and affecting, what makes Stoner so impressive is the contained intensity the author and character share.”—Irving Howe, The New Republic   “A quiet but resonant achievement.”—The Times Literary Supplement   “Perhaps the greatest example of minimalism I’ve ever read...Stoner is a story of great hope for the writer who cares about her work.”—Stephen Elliott   “Stoner by John Williams, contains what is no doubt my favorite literary romance of all time. William Stoner is well into his 40s, and mired in an unhappy marriage, when he meets Katherine, another shy professor of literature. The affair that ensues is described with a beauty so fierce that it takes my breath away each time I read it. The chapters devoted to this romance are both terribly sexy and profoundly wise.”—The Christian Science Monitor