Stoner- Praise For

I don’t usually put much stock in the blurbs on the backs or inside covers of books, but check out these two on the back cover of Stoner, by John Williams, which I am currently reading and loving:

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

 

“Once in a while, a novel comes along that is so remarkable in its quality that it stands out not only as an example of what well-written fiction should be, but also as a satisfying reading experience all by itself…[Stoner is] one of the most extraordinarily fine novels published in the last fifty years.”

CLAY REYNOLDS, THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS

 

“[R]arer than a great novel–it is a perfect novel.”?!?!?!?!

“[A]n example of what well-written fiction should be…one of the most extraordinarily fine novels published in the last fifty years.”?!?!?!?!?!?

Can you imagine having someone say that about something you had written?  I know there is an anti-elitist reading/reader movement out there right now, but seriously.  Think about what you’re reading.  Now think about whether anyone would call it “a perfect novel.”  Could anyone honestly refer to what you have on your nightstand right at this moment as “one of the most extraordinarily fine novels published in the last fifty years”?  If not, that’s okay.  But why not?  If it’s out there, and it is actually enjoyable as well as exceptional, why would you not want to read it?  Why are you reading that other stuff instead?

I’m not saying I’m better or smarter than anyone else because I am reading and liking this one.  But I am saying that it is exceptional.  I don’t know about perfect, but it is easily one of the best and most literary books I can remember reading any time recently.  I know I throw these out a lot, but I could not recommend this book more enthusiastically.  If you love literature, and beautiful writing as well as story, I think you would love this one.

One day I hope to have writerly blurbs half so flattering.  But only if they are sincere.

2 thoughts on “Stoner- Praise For

  1. I don’t know what it says about me, maybe I’m just a grump, but if I read those reviews I would be instantly skeptical of the book and the reviewer. I likely wouldn’t want to read the book.

    • I actually understand exactly what you mean. I am usually intensely skeptical of these gushy blurbs. Nothing kills my interest in a book more than having it too highly praised, only to have it then not live up to those expectations, and there is a lot of misplaced overpraise out there. Of course you still need to account for taste, in both style and subject matter. If you hate his style, you will hate this book. But on a pure writing level, there is just so much bad writing out there, I am finding this book intensely well-written and therefore enjoyable on those grounds alone. Some people seem to value story over writing. Like if there is a good story and they like the characters, they are willing to overlook sub-par writing. If that’s for you, then that is fine. But part of what I like most about reading is good writing. If the subject matter is lame, then it still probably won’t hold my interest. But in this one, I’m liking the subject matter too, so it really is a great and enjoyable book all around. Through my praise, yes, I may be becoming part of the problem, inflating expectations. But in this one instance, it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

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