It has been weeks and I am still not over it. Stoner by John Williams is everything I look for in a book, everything and more.
It caught me from the very first paragraphs. I read as if I was under compulsion, I read as if everything around me stopped as my eyes followed word after word and nothing else mattered. Truly outstanding experience that left me wondering where has this beautiful piece of writing been all my life?
Stoner is a story about a man who was born and raised in a family of uneducated farmers. When William comes of age, his parents decide to send him to university where he is expected to attain a degree in Agriculture. During his second year, he discovers English literature when taking one of the mandatory courses. Not too long after, William drops his agriculture studies and pursues a degree in literature and arts instead. Throughout his life, literature remains an integral part of his unfulfilling and sometimes exhausting existence.
A lot of people have a hard time describing what is so beautiful about Stoner, and I am surely one of them. It is not a read that will brighten up your day, on the contrary, this melancholy soaked story can leave you emotionally drained.
Natural rhythm of the story is addictive and deeply moving. Sometimes you just have to stop and reread the same sentence over and over again; you have to take a moment to appreciate the feelings it communicates to you. Simplicity of words is comforting and the way they come together is simply breathtaking. Here’s the one of the examples I came across towards the end of my Stoner experience:
… and she would live her days out quietly, drinking a little more, year by year, numbing herself against the nothingness her life had become.
I wish I took note of all the episodes, paragraphs and sentences that left me wondering why I did not pick up this book earlier. But there will be a chance for it, as Stoner is the book I see myself rereading multiple times.
Anyone who yearns for a different kind of reading experience should give Stoner a go. You will not encounter many novels like this.
With all seriousness, just read it!