There is plenty good about Stoner but the thing that really jumps out is author John Williams’ ability to write such a deep and emotionally engaging story about what can be considered a mostly ordinary life. The titular character begins life on a farm but the story quickly follows his progression to college life where he settles into comfortable surroundings, pursues a career as a lecturer and academic, marries and has a daughter.
The novel practically canvases Stoner’s entire life in around 280 pages and not once does it feel rushed, nor do questions of how the story has arrived to a certain part need to be asked. Williams is very adept at highlighting the milestones of Stoner’s life and quickly and sufficiently progressing, sometimes years at a time, between them.
This ability certainly helps establish the emotional depth of the novel. We learn who Stoner is by his thoughts surrounding key events which are given ample time to logically form. Whilst Stoner is, naturally, the most developed character, Williams must be commended for crafting such a well developed array of supporting characters. Again, he is able to do this via his prose, sharp and full of meaning, never wasting a word. There are no good or bad characters here. Williams is able to establish sympathetic reasons for every action and gives a most understanding view point in the form of Stoner. Whilst he may not always agree with the actions those around him take, Stoner is never quick to judge and initial oversight shown by Stoner is acknowledged later on.
It’s a wonderful read and would be a go to for any aspiring writer to get a feel for great writing.