Stoner by John Williams


Variety magazine has just announced that Casey Affleck, Best Actor Oscar for Manchester by the Sea will star in a film adaptation of the novel Stoner by John Williams, directed by Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement).

Stoner cover pic

As the sticker on this particular book cover states, yes, this is the greatest novel you’ve ever read. It has a reputation for being loved by all who read it, but unknown by everyone else.

John Edward Williams (1922 – 1994)

John Williams, as his name implies, was an ordinary man, shy; an academic who wrote four very different novels: Stoner is his third.

What you notice when only a few pages in is the plain, unadorned prose that immediately puts you at ease, confirms that you made the right choice to pick up this book, and wraps you in a quilt of confidence that something important will be revealed to you;  and you simply can’t wait to know what it is. Reading Stoner is like watching a movie – the prose is so vivid – which has me excited, and also wary, about the forthcoming movie. But don’t just take my word for it:

The New Yorker from October 2013 wrote this.

Julian Barnes in the Guardian from October 2013 wrote “Stoner the must-read novel of 2013” even though it was published fifty years before.

The New York Times Magazine stated “You Should Seriously Read ‘Stoner’ Right Now” in May 2014.

AND something from Elaine Showalter, a professor emerita of English at Princeton University, who is NOT a Stoner fan. She wrote in the Washington Post in November 2015, “Classic ‘Stoner’? Not so fast“.

And now, as I page through my copy to prepare this post, I can feel the pull of it.

It’s probably going to take a year or more for the movie to be made and released; plenty of time for you to hunt down a copy. Here’s a good place to start.


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