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Stoner: A Novel (Vintage Classics) [Paperback]

John Williams , John McGahern
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (729 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 5.03 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

5 July 2012 Vintage Classics

WATERSTONES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2013

'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 began appearing on bestseller lists across Europe. Forty-eight years after its first, quiet publication in the US, Stoner is finally finding the wide and devoted readership it deserves. Have you read it yet?

William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. A seminar on English literature changes his life, and he never returns to work on his father's farm. Stoner becomes a teacher. He marries the wrong woman. His life is quiet, and after his death his colleagues remember him rarely.

Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value. Stoner tells of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history, and reclaims the significance of an individual life. A reading experience like no other, itself a paean to the power of literature, it is a novel to be savoured.


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Stoner: A Novel (Vintage Classics) + Butcher's Crossing (Vintage Classics) + Augustus: A Novel
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics (5 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099561549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099561545
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (729 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"I was stunned by it... It's beautifully written in simple but brilliant prose, a novel of an ordinary life, an examination of a quiet tragedy, the work of a great but little-known writer" (Ruth Rendell Guardian)

"A masterpiece of sad lucidity, as moving as it is psychologically compelling" (Peter Kemp Sunday Times)

"It is a remarkably affecting story, told in quiet, unshowy prose" (Stefan Collini Times Literary Supplement)

"In recent times I have owed more to word of mouth than to the statements of reviewers, when it comes to finding my way to rewarding work published or reissued. This is also true, or truer still, of Stoner" (Karl Miller Times Literary Supplement)

"My favourite book of the year...a masterpiece-beautifully written with a rare tenderness and wisdom that will make you want to read it again" (Jonathan Pugh Daily Mail)

"With prose of breathtaking clarity, and a narrative that flows along seamlessly, Williams subverts the American dream via an underachieving and rather unlucky university lecturer... Anyone who loves literature will surely love this" (Judy Moir Herald)

"The other book that cheered me up this year was Stoner by John Williams.re-emerging this year - rather triumphantly (and permanently this time, I think)" (Robin Robertson Glasgow Sunday Herald)

"A compassionate depiction of Everyman that celebrates the transformative power of literature" (Melonie Clarke The Lady)

"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)

"A terrific novel of echoing sadness" (Julian Barnes)

"Stoner is a brilliant, beautiful, inexorably sad, wise, and elegant novel" (Nick Hornby The Believer)

"I have read few novels as deep and as clear as John Williams' Stoner. It deserves to be called a quiet classic of American literature" (Chad Harbach)

"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. It is universally adored by writers and readers alike. The book is so beautifully paced and cadenced that it deserves the status of classic" (Colum McCann Guardian)

"A beautiful and moving novel, as sweeping, intimate and mysterious as life itself" (Geoff Dyer)

"One of the great unheralded 20th century American novels...Almost perfect" (Bret Easton Ellis)

"It's simply a novel about a guy who goes to college and becomes a teacher. But its one of the most fascinating things that you've ever come across" (Tom Hanks Time)

"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...few stories this sad could be so secretly triumphant, or so exhilarating. Williams brings to Stoner's fate a quality of attention, a rare empathy, that shows us why this unassuming life was worth living." (New York Times)

Book Description

Have you read the novel everyone is talking about about? Stoner: the 2013 surprise international bestseller

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
239 of 248 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful forgotten modern classic 27 May 2013
By Ann Fairweather TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition
It only took a few pages to know that I was reading an unknown, forgotten masterpiece. The writing is incredibly beautiful, the kind that is so smooth, so fluid, that you forget you are even reading, reaching straight into the heart of the matter. Stoner has become one of my favourite book of all times. It seems slightly incredible that such a good book could be about the very uneventful, sad life of a professor in an American university. You follow Stoner from his young years as a student and farmer, right up to his death, married, with an estranged daughter and a half-failed career behind him. It is somehow difficult to say how fascinating, gripping this book is, but it is. Stoner struggles to affirm himself as a formidable intellectual that he is in his field, because he is so self-effacing, so humble of character. You really wish him to take a more vigorous stand against his dreadful colleague who will undermine and ruin his whole life eventually. But at work like at home, with his very demanding, difficult wife, Stoner always chooses the path of least resistance, and lets his life ebb away...This attitude becomes near unbearable for the reader when it comes to the love of his life and yet again... He is a maddening character yet so real that you love him and desperately want him to be happy. There is certainly a lot of Stoner in us and why his story is so moving, so affecting. It also talks of an attitude to life that is the complete opposite of what we want now. It is about a very quiet character, and an inner life that does not need outside validations. It is about valuing the life of the mind above all else, even if it means renouncing happiness in other ways. It is about avoiding confrontations with loved ones even if it means giving-up your own rights. Stoner really is a great, great story, with a deep flamboyance, resonance very few novels possess. To read and to cherish.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect writing 18 Aug 2013
By Mrs
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a story of a man's life. It is quietly told but immediately compelling. The writing disappears so that you are immersed in the feelings, thoughts and emotions of the subject as he moves through a relatively uneventful life. Sounds boring, but it is a simple story, beautifully formed.
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71 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quiet man 16 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback
Stoner is the story of an inconsequential man, the author tells us so right at the start, then proceeds to prove himself wrong. Even the "smallest" existence can be so full of life, so full of meaning, Williams seems to be saying.

John Stoner grows up dirt poor but discovers a passion for literature and becomes a teacher at Columbia University. The book chronicles university life and politics, love, marriage and parenthood and finally, the thoughts a man has as he prepares himself for departure from this world.

The book is very quiet and elegantly written. It is also profoundly sad. At every turn, Stoner is denied happiness, and yet he faces every situation with integrity and stoicism, like his farmer parents. Life is endured, not enjoyed.

"...within a month he knew that his marriage was a failure; within a year he stopped hoping that it would improve. He learned silence and did not insist upon his love."

For all it's sadness, the book is strangely compelling. Williams' insights into the working of human relationships are timeless. And his eloquent prose is an absolute pleasure to read and has a poignancy that I found deeply moving.

Rating: thoroughly readable
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92 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life lived flat. 10 Jan 2013
By JoannaD
Format:Paperback
I loved this story. A tale of a life lived flat but told with such internal depth and subtle emotion. It deals effortlessly with the layers of deceit and self-deceit that sometimes exist in relationships - particularly 'public' relationships - and the creeping discomfort that comes with understanding that life is short and it often belongs to other people. It is sad. But not depressingly so. Our hero, Stoner, could have made other choices - he just didn't.

I finished it this morning, buried my head in my pillow and cried a bit. I realise that I will miss William Stoner. Technically, I spent only two days with him but I felt the whole life of the character. This is one that will keep flooding back.
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108 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understated masterpiece. 18 July 2003
Format:Paperback
It's appropriate somehow that this American novel is in-print in England, because it's so unlike most fiction America produces: it's quiet, somber, compact and gracefully written, thoroughly unhip and un-modern. It is a simple tale about a somewhat banal English professor in the midwest whose life just sort of floats by him. The prose is rich and terse, never ostentatious, and for a novel whose setpieces occur mostly in an academic setting, it's utterly engrossing. Williams writes with humanity and insight about relatively normal people we would pass by in the street, and in being so faithful to their aches and appetites, he convinces you -- like all good fiction from Homer to Tolstoi -- that these are real human beings you're reading about. Nothing less than extraordinary. Please buy this book!
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75 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why is this novel not famous? 21 Mar 2003
Format:Paperback
It's great to have Stoner back in print in the UK, along with Augustus, both with wonderful new introductions. It's been 30 years since I first read Stoner and reading it again for the third or fourth time I can only confirm that the novel more than stands the test of time. It is a story of an honest man, of personal integrity in the face of considerable obstacles. Very few contemporary novels have moved me to the same extent or depth as this one. C.P. Snow in a review of the first British edition asked the question, "Why is this novel not famous?" Why not, indeed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars descriptive passages good but nothing else good about the entire
A totally depressing book read for book club, descriptive passages good but nothing else good about the entire book
Published 1 day ago by graham high
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Excellent but difficult not to speed read endong
Published 4 days ago by jacqueline
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, thoughful
Very good, thoughful, and sometimes despairing read about one man's life and whether any of us leave any legacy in this world. Worhwhile.
Published 5 days ago by john
4.0 out of 5 stars Ecclesiastes 1 v 9
When so many people have written reviews there is very little left to say. Except that this novel made me so grateful for the wonderful teachers I had at University. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Dominique White
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
EXCELLENT
Published 6 days ago by I. R. Cowell
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Not as good as the review suggested, in fact depressing.
Published 6 days ago by mary humphries
5.0 out of 5 stars Very sad. Wonderfully written
A simple story but so engrossing. Very sad. Wonderfully written.
Published 7 days ago by D. A. Johnston-jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
It's a really good book, there are 'motes swirling in the air' but Williams carries it off with aplomb. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Dan Smith
1.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten for a good reason!
This "long forgotten classic" should have stayed forgotten! There are not enough words in the English language to describe how dull, dreary and generally tedious I found... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Joanna
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual choice
I found this strange & difficult in the beginning then I could not put down.
Life is so very sad!
Published 18 days ago by Janet Colledge
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