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Stoner (New York Review Books Classics)

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With a warm fire in the fireplace to cut the slight chill of the late April evening, home made sausage rolls, lasagna and quiche on the table, The Book Club gathered at Margaret’s to discuss Stoner by John Williams.A survey of great American novelists and dramatists of the early to mid-20th century from Fitzgerald, through Faulkner, Albee, Tennessee Williams, and Eugene O’Neill provides a clue to the background of Stoner. Set at the University of Missouri before, during and after the Great War it is the story of William Stoner, the only son of simple methodist farmers raised working on the farm and sent to University to learn agriculture but where instead he falls in love, with language and literature, and drastically changes course to ultimately teach as an assistant professor in the English department.

"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

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    Book "Stoner by John Edward Williams" description: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, so different from the hardscrabble existence he has known. And yet as the years pass, Stoner encounters a succession of disappointments: marriage into a “proper” f...

    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