What an extraordinary and deeply touching book this is.
It is written so incredibly beautifully, the descriptions of the snow, of the eponymous hero's dying, of his love, his inner musings, his struggles, his hopes and his despair - all are written with such quiet and perfect observation, that one's own heart can follow almost inside of HIS heart.
This is a great classic. The author never lived to see it's sudden trajectory to the tops of European best-seller lists - and that is a great shame. Maybe not unlike Stoner's own experience of being unappreciated.
I cannot imagine why it has not reached the same appreciation in America as in Europe?
It is a sad book for sure, but sad in the way that it is so true to life, to the common experience - it is not the 'hero' so often sought - as the critic in the New Yorker wrote - Stoner is the opposite of Gatsby. Maybe in america people want their heroes to be flamboyant, glamorous and dramatic. (I'm not knocking Gatsby which is of course a great novel - but as 'Hero's' go - Stoner is the opposite )
The narration by Robin Field is also wonderful. He has a voice which seems to be naturally 'set' most of the time in the minor key - which is perfect for this book. However - at the other times where an outburst of anger or other emotion is called for - he conveys that in a way that is all the more shocking having listened to the almost melancholic tone of the rest of the reading.
This is a book so precious and extra-ordinary that I have also bought its typed version.
I don’t know how I had never heard of this novel before (it was written in the 1960s and had experienced wide acclaim). Seemingly about nothing but the most mundane of lives, it is in fact a rich and textured exploration of the inner world with all of its existential angst and disappointments. It is a beautifully paced and precise piece of writing that will leave lovers of wonderful writing in awe of the observational power of authors like Williams.
It takes a little time to become immersed in the character of Stoner and his life tale but once ‘locked in’ it is a hard book to stop listening to. The narrator was perfectly suited to the pace and the tone of this lyrical and melancholic novel. I know it will not be for everyone but I think it ranks as one of the best I have listened to.
Yes. The author's skill permeates every line of it.
The few characters progress truthfully and despite their small number, the book is never boring. It has so much to teach us.
Robin Field's tone suits the book perfectly - a bit monotonous, even bored at times, dragging his voice - to get the story through to us. All the while it was very easy to listen to and I got through most of it while driving around the city.
Not a particular moment. The entire book is an event in itself.
If you like stories that move you deeply in their own way, go ahead!
The almost haunting narration of a man's life, in the style of the American literary naturalists of that era, yet not without compassion. That tone--at once distanced, yet not without compassion--I found compelling.
There really is only one character in this novel--Stoner.
It's understandable, to me, why this novel has been historically overlooked. While it is a remarkable piece of fiction, it is going to be vastly more interesting to me, a man who also spent his life teaching literature. English majors--some of them at least--would love this old 1930's novel.
It is not a spoiler to reveal that Professor William Stoner, the eponymous main character, dies at the end of this novel since that fact is revealed to us at the outset. His demise, as described there, causes so few ripples, such a small wake (and I use the word purposefully), that we must wonder if the narrative of his life can be worth reading. But it is--because this terribly, achingly ordinary life is made to sound extraordinary by the power and passion of the writing invested by John Williams in the character. And this is fitting inasmuch as the only real passion--albeit not the only love--in Stoner???s life is literature.
As in the naturalistic novels of the late nineteenth century, our attention is drawn to the harrowing burdens of Stoner???s existence far more than to his very few glories. He is victimized at so many turns that it is hard to consider him a protagonist, and yet, ultimately, his graceful stoicism and kindness gain in us a certain respect--especially in those of us who have ever asked ourselves if our lives will have made any difference to the world. The novel is a painful answer to that question. But if beauty is truth and if the discovery of truth does make live worth living, then this beautifully-crafted work is worth reading.
I started this book with doubt -- from description and reviews it sounded underwhelming; and it was banal for the first part of the book. While on the one hand Stoner seems to let life happen to him rather than at least making people and circumstances meet him halfway; he does make decisions that sometimes improve his life, that reflect his principles, that are sensitive to those arround him, that keep life on an even keel which seems to be his preference. In the grand scheme of things, his life did not leave much of a mark, but then, isn't that true for the majority. For at least the last half of the book, I was drawn to listening to the book whenever I could.
The writing is exquisite and crisp. Stoner's inner thoughts, reactions, wishes, emotions were insightful and felt so real.
Robin Field's tone was perfect for the style of prose. Loved the writing. Story was strangely riveting. Thoroughly enjoyed.
I love to read and audible has helped me double what I read in a year. An Irish bookworm.
I would recommend it to someone who likes a classic work of fiction that does not excite through it plot but rather through the deep thought provoking questions that this piece of work raises.
Stoner himself presents an interesting case study of a life lived like many others. Its interesting to see how certain decisions and choices affect his future self.
Excellent. An understated performance that quietly goes about it business in an impressive way.
Well worth a listen if you do not have time to read the original.
Say something about yourself!
A sad, interesting story of a dedicated teacher abused by fate. The characterizations are brilliantly written, with Stoner a supreme man of pathos. I'm glad to have found this book.
Not necessarily. Individual preferences in processing stories are different, even our moods can be different. Sometimes I like reading, sometimes I like listening.
Margaret Atwood's Hand Maid's Tale. Not the nature of the story (although both fiction) but the degree of detail, most intimate thoughts of the protagonist, the " naked truth" told, calm yet merciless.
Did a good job articulating author/protagonist's calm, plain narrative dotted with exquisite agonies when he first experiences "Love" not until he was middle aged.
When Stoner started to learn about true human caring and love.
Beautiful in the sense that it's some totally honest, bare, guileless. Ordinary human condition, extraordinarily written.