Give me a moment to dry my eyes. I'm still shedding a tear or two today after finishing this book in the wee hours of this morning I can't say much beyond what's already been said. So I will describe my experience with it.
About half-way through this book I was exhausted. Partly from turning the pages so quickly, but mostly from the unendurable sadness that is William Stoner's life(though even in my exhaustion, I was entranced). And then I realized that while quiet and melancholy, and with its fair share of villains, Stoner's life isn't sad at all. It's just life. And then the book opened up to me, or maybe I opened up to it, and I fell in love. I fell in love with William Stoner and his quiet university life. I fell in love with his sweet-tempered, lifelong friend, and even with his scheming enemies. I fell in love with the succession of events that made up this one man's ordinary life, and I fell in love with the way that life moved me.
I can't really explain what it is about this book. Yes, it's well written, filled with living, breathing characters, and perfectly paced. But it's more than that, and I don't have the talent to impress upon you just how beautiful it is. Read the blurbs, and other more eloquent reviewers. More importantly, read the book.— From Erin B.
"Stoner, by John Williams, is a slim novel, and not a particularly joyous one. But it is so quietly beautiful and moving, so precisely constructed, that you want to read it in one sitting and enjoy being in it, altered somehow, as if you have been allowed to wear an exquisitely tailored garment that you don’t want to take off." —The Globe and Mail
"It is a marvelous discovery for everyone who loves literature." — Ian McEwan, BBC Radio 4
"One of the great forgotten novels of the past century. I have bought at least 50 copies of it in the past few years, using it as a gift for friends....The book is so beautifully paced and cadenced that it deserves the status of classic." —Colum McCann's Top 10 Novels, The Guardian
"Stoner is undeniably a great book, but I can also understand why it isn’t a sentimental favorite in its native land. You could almost describe it as an anti-Gatsby....Part of Stoner's greatness is that it sees life whole and as it is, without delusion yet without despair....The novel embodies the very virtues it exalts, the same virtues that probably relegate it, like its titular hero, to its perpetual place in the shade. But the book, like professor William Stoner, isn’t out to win popularity contests. It endures, illumined from within."— Tim Krieder, The New Yorker
"It’s simply a novel about a guy who goes to college and becomes a teacher. But it’s one of the most fascinating things that you’ve ever come across." — Tom Hanks, Time
"Stoner is written in the most plainspoken of styles….Its hero is an obscure academic who endures a series of personal and professional agonies. Yet the novel is utterly riveting, and for one simple reason: because the author, John Williams, treats his characters with such tender and ruthless honesty that we cannot help but love them." — Steve Almond, Tin House
"[T]he work deserves to be called a 'perfect novel' — there's not a misplaced word or a trace of contrivance." -Boldtype
"The best book I read in 2007 was Stoner by John Williams. It’s perhaps the best book I’ve read in years." -Stephen Elliott, The Believer
"John Williams's Stoner is something rarer than a great novel - it is a perfect novel, so well told and beautifully written, so deeply moving, that it takes your breath away." -The New York Times Book Review
"Williams didn't write much compared with some novelists, but everything he did was exceedingly fine...it's a shame that he's not more often read today...But it's great that at least two of his novels [Stoner, Butcher's Crossing] have found their way back into print." -The Denver Post
“A masterly portrait of a truly virtuous and dedicated man” —The New Yorker
“Why isn’t this book famous…Very few novels in English, or literary productions of any kind, have come anywhere near its level for human wisdom or as a work of art.” —C.P. Snow
“Serious, beautiful and affecting, what makes Stoner so impressive is the contained intensity the author and character share.” —Irving Howe, New Republic
“A quiet but resonant achievement” —The Times Literary Supplement
"Perhaps the greatest example of minimalism I’ve ever read...Stoner is a story of great hope for the writer who cares about her work." -Stephen Elliott
“Stoner by John Williams, contains what is no doubt my favorite literary romance of all time. William Stoner is well into his 40s, and mired in an unhappy marriage, when he meets Katherine, another shy professor of literature. The affair that ensues is described with a beauty so fierce that it takes my breath away each time I read it. The chapters devoted to this romance are both terribly sexy and profoundly wise.”—The Christian Science Monitor