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


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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 (838 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 299 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

262 of 271 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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104 of 113 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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79 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Maree Hall on 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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80 of 87 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on 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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158 of 175 people found the following review helpful By Tamara L on 6 Nov 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Am I the only reader who wanted to give William Stoner a resounding slap?

He becomes infatuated with, and pursues, a woman who appears to be clinically depressed, with possibly a range of additional mental health problems. She subsequently makes his life a misery. And he lets her. He is bullied at work and fails to achieve his full potential. He falls in love, but of course the mad wife proves a bit of an obstacle (among other things). I wish someone would do for Edith what Jean Rhys did for Bertha Mason in Wide Sargosso Sea. John McGahern writes tellingly in the introduction, 'Stoner's wife is a type that can be glimpsed in much American writing, through such different sensibilities as O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, Faulkner, Scott Fitzgerald - beautiful, unstable, educated to observe the surfaces of a privileged and protected society - but never can that type of wife have been revealed as remorselessly as here.'

Hmm, common thread here. Cold-hearted shallow women all written by men. No slight on the brilliant McGahern who created memorable and very moving three-dimensional female characters. No wonder he seems to see these 'types' as an alien species from across the Atlantic.

Stoner's stoicism (passivity?) is sometimes irritating but it goes beyond that when he lets his beloved daughter go to the wall, Philip Larkin style. He is too weak to intervene in Edith's systematic campaign to ruin Grace's life, seeing himself powerless to act in the face of his wife's manipulative behaviour. Powerless? Man up, Stoner. Get with the Patriarchy! Read the Women's Room, The Yellow Wallpaper. You have power in this marriage. Wield some of it to salvage your daughter's future.

Stoner isn't always such a victim.
Read more ›
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