Thursday, 18 September 2014
Devouring Books: Stoner by John Williams
Stoner has been on my radar for quite a while now, and let's not talk about the fact that I thought for a long time that it was going to be about drugs and, you know, a stoner, in spite of the fact that I had literally no evidence to back this up. I mean, look at the cover! It's got books on it! Stoners don't read books! (Or... probably they do. In a super deep and then unintentionally hilarious way. Ah, drugs.)
But anyway. Stoner is NOT about drugs, or stoners, if you can believe it. Much as I would have enjoyed that book (maybe I need to read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas again...) I actually think I liked this one even more, and it's tricky to pin down exactly what I liked about it. It's such a quiet book- not much happens, and it's not even that long; but somehow it manages to encapsulate an entire life- one that feels so real that you can't help but care about it.
That life belongs to William Stoner, a man who was supposed to be a farmer but went to University, fell in love with writing, and became an English lecturer. He also gets married, avoids two wars, gets involved in University politics, and, in short, does all the things that make up a life. It's so weird to think about now, because trying to sum it up makes it sound SO boring- 'there's this guy and he does stuff and it's all good...'- but when I was reading it I was like 'this is IT. This is life. This is truth' and all those other things that make me sound like a twat when I put them in writing...
Essentially, I think Stoner touched me especially because, you know, I can relate to falling in love with words, and right now I can relate to the beautiful idea of (maybe) being an academic for life, whilst also being nervous about all the politics involved in that. Or maybe it's just because Stoner is an incredibly human book- it really does cover all facets of life, and the fact that it begins at the start of the twentieth century does nothing to make it still wholly relatable- and the fact that I related so completely to a white male at the turn of the century surprised me more than it would surprise you, believe me.
I don't really know what else to say about this book- if I've made it sound horribly boring then I've probably failed to pass on the level of its impact on me. Quiet though it is, it's still so (is she going to say human again? She's going to say human) human and real and just really very very good. And if that's not a ringing enough endorsement for you, then I don't really know what else to say.
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This was an Audible daily deal the other day and I meant to get it but then forgot to go to an actual computer to buy it. Kicking myself. I like quiet books where nothing happens. That totally makes me weird, huh?ReplyDelete
PPPPPPPPSSSSSSS. I saw your American twin the other day trying on wedding dresses (we were at the shop getting the littles flower girl dresses). It was SO jarring that I almost ran up to her and gave her a giant hug. I'm still not entirely convinced it wasn't you and I almost got really mad that you didn't tell me that you were in town so that we could hang out. So. #truestory
That's not weird because I like that toooooo (obviously...) I mean, sometimes I get to a point where I'm like 'I WANT A PLOT, DAMMIT' and I know it's time to stop reading Lit Fic, but THIS. This was so good.Delete
OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU FOUND MY TEXAN TWIN! You should have spoken to her and then recorded her and the whooooole internet could have been freaked outttt. (I say this like I would have done that. I would never have done that. EVER.) I promise to tell you if I'm ever in Texas though! Of course!!
I CANNOT GET PAST HOW BAD THE TITLE IS. Of COURSE people are going to think it's about drugs. Are you kidding, sir author? Boo -- booooooo!ReplyDelete
I know, right?! PLUS it was published in the sixties which is surely where the term stoner came from, no? Or... maybe not? I don't know, there are just literally no drugs in this. Dammit.Delete
I've been meaning to read this! Rider Strong went ON about it on the Literary Disco podcast once, and dubious though I am about his hipster book preferences, he pretty well sold me. And now you. So I will read this. Very well.ReplyDelete
This is some solid reasoning, and you've made a very good choice here, Megs. Nice work. ALSO, and I forgot to add this in my review for some RIDICULOUS reason, Tom Hanks said it's awesome and I think, really, that's all we need to read a book, right? TOM HANKS IS EVERYTHING.Delete
You probably should've led with that information, Laura. Geez.Delete
As soon as I read your first paragraph I was like "...wait, so this ISN'T a book about stoners? But it says it right there in the title." And then I thought of a Simpsons quote and laughed to myself.ReplyDelete
You're a special lady, Alley.Delete
So incredibly special. This is why we love you so. I'm really glad I've made it super clear to everyone that this isn't about stoners. I feel like I was misled on that issue for way way too long.Delete