Stoner!

I've been on a bit of a Stoner crusade since I read this book back in October. It really is that good, and given that it was out of print for a good 30 years until NYRB published their edition in 2006, I figured it must be fairly overlooked.

Well, looks like it may not be quite as overlooked as I thought. In addition to my own appreciation for it at The Millions' Year in Reading, we find two other partisans. Edan Lepucki:

Stoner by John Williams is not about a dude who smokes blunts all day. It’s about a man named William Stoner, and the book tells his life story in a mere 278 pages. The prose is unadorned and crisp, and it captures the true essence of its protagonist, a man who grew up on a farm, and then studied, and went onto teach, English literature at the University of Missouri. In other words, a person who isn’t particularly noteworthy in the broader scheme of things. This is a heartbreaking and beautiful novel, one of the best I have ever read, or will have the privilege to read, in my life.

And Patrick Brown:

Stoner, by John Williams, is not only the best novel I read this year, but it’s among the best I’ve ever read. It is also, I think, the sort of book that people aren’t writing right now. It’s a life, from the moment when its protagonist Bill Stoner really comes alive in a sophomore English class at the University of Missouri through his career as a professor of English there. About halfway through the novel is one of the best scenes I’ve ever encountered in a book. I don’t want to describe it too much here, as discovering it is one of the pleasures of the book, but I think they should teach it in writing classes everywhere, as it really is a perfect scene. In fact, Stoner is a perfect novel.

So one more time, with feeling: read Stoner! And feel free to join me in 2010 for Butcher's Crossing.



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Just like you I read Stoner this year, and I got Butchers Crossing for Christmas. Cant wait to see how Williams tackles this subject. I suppose a purchase of Augustus looms in the future as well.

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