STONER by John Williams (No, not that John Williams, a different one) is my BoyfriendPosted: November 8, 2011
WHAT THE BOOK’S ABOUT-
One of my favorite things in the world is the Bookseller’s Twilight Bark.
Let me explain. We remember the Twilight Bark from Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmations, that is, when Scotland Yard is unable to find lost puppies, the dogs pass a bark all over London to find their missing sweethearts.
Booksellers have a bark too. Theirs lets us know which books are semi-obscure and have fallen a little bit through the cracks and bark it up so that informed readers become aware of what is not in the Amazon top 100 (or sometimes top 500,000), but are nevertheless, great, great, great, add-another-fifty-greats- great books. And if you listen carefully, on websites, on Twitter, in stores, you’ll start to hear the same titles appear again and again over the airwaves of the Bookseller’s Twilight Bark.
One of these books is STONER by John Williams.
Everyone’s excited because they think I’m finally writing up a novel about drugs.
No, I’m sorry, not today, go re-read ELECTRIC KOOL-AID ACID TEST again if you need your fix. The “Stoner” in question is a last name, not a small-time weed dealer or even a high school pothead.
Looks like we need our friendly, neighborhood Synopsis Gadget to clear things up here.
Synopsis Gadget, go, go, go!
STONER follows the life and times of William Stoner, a man born at the end of the nineteenth century to an impoverished Missouri farming family. Stoner grows up to become an English professor and throughout his life struggles to deal with his difficult department and difficult life at home. The novel documents the tragedies, both mammoth and microscopic, of this man’s life as he lives through the 20th century.
Everyone’s like… really? The life of an English teacher? Is it too late to make this novel all about drugs?
Don’t wish drugs on this novel! It’s perfect as it is. Sad as all get out, yes, but it’s the kind of emotional journey that makes a reader remember why she loves reading. Or at least that was this book’s effect on me. It’s funny, the titles are so similar, in so many ways this book reminded me of Carol Shield’s THE STONE DIARIES , which I recommended this past August. Both follow the sad and quiet lives of individuals in America (STONE DIARIES is a lady, and sometimes she lives in Canada) through the 20th century. STONER got into my heart the same way THE STONE DIARIES did. It might have burrowed even a little bit further into my aeortas and arteries.
So far I’ve had 100% success in recommending this book. That’s not common. People have crazy-different tastes. The only other book I’ve had this kind of rec luck with is NOTHING TO ENVY: ORDINARY LIVES IN NORTH KOREA, which I’m planning to write up here before we enter 2012: Some South American People a Long Time Ago Said the World Was Going to End Sometime Kind Of Around Here.
If you want a tragic, gorgeous, great book, get your hands on STONER.
WHAT KIND OF BOYFRIEND IS HE: An English professor who is happy when he reads and sad when he does everything else. He’s vaguely not sad when we’re kissing. But sad doing everything else.
MY DATE WITH STONER :
We read big, dusty old books.
That’s what he wanted to do on our date.
I sneak smooches, natch and natch.