William Stoner is born at the end of the nineteenth century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar's life, far different from the hardscrabble existence he has known. And yet as the years pass, Stoner encounters a succession of disappointments: marriage into a "proper" family estranges him from his parents; his career is stymied; his wife and daughter turn coldly away from him; a transforming experience of new love ends under threat of scandal. Driven ever deeper within himself, Stoner rediscovers the stoic silence of his forebears and confronts an essential solitude. John Williams' luminous and deeply moving novel is a work of quiet perfection. William Stoner emerges from it not only as an archetypal American, but as an unlikely existential hero, standing, like a figure in a painting by Edward Hopper, in stark relief against an unforgiving world.
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by John Williams
by John Steinbeck
by John Knowles
"STONER opens with the declaration that at the time of William Stoner's death, he had never advanced beyond the rank of assistant professor of English literature and was held in no particular esteem by his colleagues. Few students could even remember him when his name was mentioned. Then John Williams recounts the story of Stoner's life from the age of 19 to his death, and we find that his life was not ordinary at all. Robin Field fully inhabits Stoner's character, dragging every morsel of tragedy, inevitability and, occasionally, wiliness and joy from Williams's understated writing. Field's performance helps us understand that an ordinary person's life is still grand, emotional, and worthy. Originally published in 1965 and recently reissued, STONER is a small miracle of a novel that is enhanced by a narrator who is a perfect match. A.B. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award (c) AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine"
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