Book of the Week: Stoner by John Williams
Every once in a while a book comes along that is so beautifully written the author could be forgiven for imagining its place in the canon of literature. However, all too often, even great books are overlooked and forgotten. It happened to Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea and it happened to John Williams’s Stoner. No, this is not a book about a drug addict. Instead it’s about an ordinary man called William Stoner who is a college professor, stuck in a dysfunctional marriage and amundane life. On the opening page, Williams lets us know how horribly drab the character of William Stoner is by pointing out that the man was so ordinary, none of his students could recall him. From there we see Stoner try to interact with his students, care for his young child, find reprieve in a heady affair and find the way back to his wife. What makes this book special is the writing, which is so vivid, never before has a man’s struggle to survive humdrum life been injected with such vibrance and emotional clarity. As a reader, we cannot help but side with the ineffectual Stoner, even if we do also want to slap him and wake him up. When this book was originally published in 1965 it sold 2,000 copies and was not reprinted after its first year. The theory goes that back then, men were full of ideals about political and social reform and not interested in Williams’s brand of domestic torment. However, 40 years later, when men’s role in society has taken a relentless bashing and people, both male and female, are tortured by private woes caused by failed relationships, Stoner, is deeply relevant once again. Last week Stonerwas nominated for the Waterstones Book of the Year award.
canon of literature (id.) – classic literature
dysfunctional (adj.) – not working
mundane (adj.) – boring
drab (adj.) – boring
Hot or Not?
What’s IN and what’s OUT this week?
|In – Madrid’s shopping galleriesThere’s a movement afoot to restore the disused buildings to their former glory.||Out – Circus animals Catalonia is the first province to bar the use of live animals in circuses!|
|In – e-cigarettes Will soon be on sale in Spain!||Out – Thor The new film by Kenneth Branagh that takes its inspiration from the Norse myths.|
|In – Cheryl Cole Rumors are flying around that she’s set to return to the X-Factor judging panel in the UK.||Out – Charlie Sheen Going crazy online again, called his ex-wife all sorts of unsavory names and said her exotic pets are scary!|
|In – A-list reunion Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas are back together!||Out – Sweet Miley Photos of Miley Cyrus as a child are circulating online and fans from her local community are saying that fame has corrupted her.|
(Image from SideBmagazine)
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