Stoner

Stoner

Book rating: 05 Paperback New York Review Books Classics

By (author) John Williams, Introduction by John McGahern

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  • Publisher: NYRB Classics
  • Format: Paperback | 278 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 202mm x 20mm | 300g
  • Publication date: 20 June 2006
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1590171993
  • ISBN 13: 9781590171998
  • Sales rank: 2,851

Product description

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.

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Author information

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 small publisher for the novel and enrolled at the University of Denver, where he was eventually to receive both his B.A. and M.A., and where he was to return as an instructor in 1954. Williams remained on the staff of the creative writing program at the University of Denver until his retirement in 1985. During these years, he was an active guest lecturer and writer, publishing two volumes of poetry and three novels, "Butcher's Crossing, Stoner," and the National Book Award-winning "Augustus." John McGahern (1934-2006) was one of the most acclaimed Irish writers of his generation. His work, including six novels and four collections of short stories, often centered on the Irish predicament, both political and temperamental. "Amongst Women," his best-known book, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and made into a popular miniseries. His last book, the memoir "All Will Be Wel"l, was published shortly before his death.

Customer reviews

By Martin 02 Sep 2013 5

One of the best books i've ever read

Review quote

""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""It is a marvelous discovery for everyone who loves literature." -- Ian McEwan, BBC Radio 4"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's 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 Krieder, "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" "[T]he work deserves to be called a 'perfect novel' -- there's not a misplaced word or a trace of contrivance." "-Boldtyp