The full quote is as follows:
“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.”
— Morris Dickstein, The New York Times Book Review
A great novel? No! An important novel? Yes, I am willing to concede that.
From the outset this novel is odd. The introduction could, in other contexts, be described as a spoiler. Strange that almost the whole content of the novel is presented to the readers before they begin. I assumed at the time that there would of course be more to be discovered when I got on to the body of the novel. I was wrong, the introduction pretty much covers it all.
It is apparent from the outset that this novel is technically well written but, though I plodded on, I never reached a point where I started to enjoy the read. I eventually abandoned it, but not until I was three quarters of the way through. Have I missed anything?
Though I was aware I was reading a story, I failed at any time to be caught up with it in an enjoyable way. Instead I continually felt as though I was listening to the world view of the writer being presented within a tale. And what a bleak world view it is too.
This novel may be important in that it portrays the atheistic hopeless world view, one that is unremittingly bleak, that sees no purpose in anything, or sees any great value of a life lived. What a sad empty one this atheistic world view is. I value the opportunity to peep into that other world view, to observe its sad, empty desolation as a spectator, but I only care to visit its emptiness briefly.
Reading Stoner reminded be, most unlikely, of the Huguenot watchmakers who produced fine watches that were beautifully decorated on the inside which only the maker was likely ever to see. Their explanation was that the visible outside of the watch was for people to see, but the inside decoration was for God.