Stoner is a 1965 novel by the American writer John Williams. It tells the story of William Stoner, who attends the state university to study agronomy, but instead falls in love with English literature and becomes an academic. The novel narrates the many disappointments and struggles in Stoner's academic and personal life, including his estrangement from his wife and daughter, set against the backdrop of the first half of the twentieth century.
In his entry in the Bookmarked series, author Steve Almond writes about why Stoner has endured, and the manner in which it speaks to the impoverishment of the inner life in America. Almond will also use the book as a launching pad for an investigation of America’s soul, in the process, writing about his own struggles as a student of writing, as a father and husband, and as a man grappling with his own mortality.
“The books we love best begin the life-long conversations we use to explain ourselves to ourselves. Gazing into William Stoner with candor, humility, tenderness, his customary wit and an ocean of compassion, Steve Almond finds there, himself, flawed, flayed, but weirdly whole in spite of everything. Stoner is a theorem that proves art saves lives.”—Pam Houston, author of Deep Creek, Finding Hope In The High Country
“This is a clear-eyed and frankly goddamn beautiful story of one reader’s relationship with one book. Almond clings to Stoner like the merciful lifeboat it is. William Stoner and the Battle for the Inner Life is criticism as literature.”—Peter Orner, author of Am I Alone Here?
“A brilliant, sorrowful, hopeful, hilarious, painfully honest love letter, not just to Stoner but to writing, marriage, teaching, reading, parenting, even death. Which makes this book, like the one it praises, a love letter to life.”—Matthew Zapruder, author of Come On All You Ghosts and Why Poetry
“In an age of vengeance comes a small book about love, masculinity, teaching, fatherhood and failure. Almond recognizes love as a force of profound disequilibrium and allows himself to be humbled by it.”—Michelle Latiolais, author of She and Widow