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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Stoner by John Williams (1965)

My sister-in-law recommended this book to me, because it was recommended to her by Anna Quinlan, who she had gone to see speak.  She said this book had a great deal of influence on her as a writer.
Here is the story.  Stoner is a man who grew up on a farm to uneducated parents in Missouri, who is literally the first generation of his family to go to college.  His parents hire a farm hand in order to run the farm in his absence, so while they are not educated, they put some value on education.  They do, however, expect him to return to the farm, and early in his college career he realizes that is not going to happen.  He does not enlist in the military in WWI and instead pursues a PhD and becomes a professor.  After that he has an unexceptional life.  He marries a woman he doesn't have a friendship with, and so there is no real love.  They have a daughter that he adores, but there is a bad outcome there as well.  His home life is unsatisfactory, and his academic life is equally lackluster.  the strength of the story is not in it's broad scope but in its attention to the details of a life that you might otherwise have overlooked.

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