Apparently, every few years one critic or another will break out a well-worn soap box in order to to tritely proclaim John Williams’s Stoner as a “forgotten” American classic, an “overlooked” literary gem, etch. I will try and refrain rom using that selfsame platform, though it might be difficult not to use a corner or two in lauding Williams’s prose.
It is a brief, bracing, and beautiful bildungsroman of William Stoner, a young man who leaves his family farm in rural Missouri at the turn of the 20th century to enter the world of the University, the institution that will ultimately define his existence, and be the only thing to provide the minute solace to be gotten from a life rife with mounting disappointments – a failed marriage, a sabotaged career, an exposed affair.
Thankfully, Williams is not a stylist; the essential quiet in Stoner’s bearing of life’s impossible, untragic indignities could not be captured in any other Mann than the author’s spare, unsparing prose. I loved this book, and highly recommend the New York Renew of Books’s wonderfully crafted paperback edition.
4.5 / 5.0