By John Williams,

Book cover of Stoner

Book description


'It's the most marvellous discovery for everyone who loves literature' Ian McEwan, BBC Radio 4

Colum McCann once called Stoner one of the great forgotten novels of the past century, but it seems it is forgotten no longer - in 2013 translations of Stoner…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked Stoner as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This novel is the story of William Stoner, raised on a US midwestern farm, who becomes an English professor at the University of Missouri. It follows his life throughout, in simple prose, becoming both moving and profound. It was introduced to me by a knowledgeable NY city book dealer back in the 90s. I pick it up every few years for another reading experience. It’s become a bit of an obscure classic.

I remember when I first started reading Stoner—it felt quiet, slow... like sitting by the sea and watching the waves. I didn't really know what to expect, but what intrigued me about it was how quiet it was. It felt very human, more so than any other book I'd ever read. The way the scenes played out, as if I was standing in the middle of the room with the characters, sensing their despair, their loneliness, their desire for happiness. And I remember where I was when I finally finished the book: I was sat on my kitchen counter,…

This 1965 novel, which would not become a bestseller until two decades after Williams’ death, has been categorised under the genre of academic novel, or campus novel. This is fair; Stoner, we learn in the book's first paragraph, was a lifelong academic, who entered the University of Missouri as a student in 1910, and went on to teach there until his death in 1956. For me, however, the book’s perfection lies in its descriptions of Stoner’s relationships, both with his quiet, stoical parents, who fall out of his life after his marriage into a ‘proper’ family, and with his wife…

From Andy's list on family dysfunction and drama.

Hey, but that is not a book on drawing or sketching!! 

Yes, but it is a book on unassumingly living a life. And also because Williams is a master of clear lean writing. Nothing seems superfluous without being simplistic. That is also the secret that I praise in sketching from life. 

Stoner is probably the best book on the subject of unassumingly sketching the world around us, only with words.

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