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Stoner: A Novel (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 5 Jul 2012

1,012 customer reviews

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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: 13 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,012 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 634 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

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

293 of 302 people found the following review helpful By Ann Fairweather TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 May 2013
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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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Martin Ternouth on 9 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The first two paragraphs of this novel summarise the unremarkable life of William Stoner, and the rest of the book gives the details of this unremarkable man, unhappily married, a failure in his career, with an alcoholic daughter. But he dies content and fulfilled, and remarkably the reader comes to believe that this is richly deserved. His is an examined life, and his failures and a few small successes add up to a rich and profound existence. I have absolutely no idea how the author conjures up so much from such apparently sterile material, but he does, and it is a masterpiece.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Allie on 16 Sept. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Stoner is in each of us, and each of us is in Stoner.
From the outside he is an ordinary, anonymous man; indistinguishable from thousands – millions – of others. He lives an unremarkable life and dies, and nobody remembers him, much.
And yet inside, inside, Stoner’s life is a diorama, as ours is; a kaleidoscope of ever-shifting granules, some dull, some sharp, others iridescent. Within the little landscape of his life is a vista of hopes and dreams, a reality of drudge, moments of soaring passion and elevation of the soul, periods of disillusionment which is almost despair. Professionally, he has times of fulfilment, also sloughs of disenchantment. Often he takes the line of least resistance but sometimes he digs his heels in and refuses to budge. He has those occasional infinitesimal shifts of self-awareness and understanding which connect him for brief, glorious moments to himself, to others and to the world. But for the most part he exists in the semi-gloom of half-consciousness, extended periods of absent-mindedness and inattention which cause him to miss out on the mountain-peak moments which would have stayed with him to the grave and which, in the end, cause him to label his life as a failure.
Stoner’s is a passive life – rarely is he proactive in his own fate - taking what comes at him with a stoic resignation; he is no hero, but he has a quiet honour. He makes wrong choices, living to regret the choices but embracing the consequences of them all the same, so that we can only admire the waste in spite of ourselves.
Am I not describing us all?
John Williams uses Stoner’s ordinary, extra-ordinary life to explore the enormous gulfs which exist between what we see and what we understand, and between what we understand and our ability to express it.
Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Susan Glazier on 3 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a lyrical classic novel, inducing empathic feelings of despair mixed with irony and humour and occasionally some hope. Stoner's main comfort and compensation is in his life's work as a scholar (which he feels passionately about), and also in his intense though relatively brief love affair with a much younger woman. The departmental politics at the University are extremely well described and, again, I could only identify and feel outrage for Stoner. I found the book difficult to stay with at first (wanting to read a thriller or something more exciting). But the novel inexorably drew me in at an increasing pace, until at last I was hooked. Then I fell in love with it.
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113 of 122 people found the following review helpful By JoannaD on 10 Jan. 2013
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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