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Extended Audio Sample Stoner, by John Williams Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (3,645 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Williams Narrator: Robin Field Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2010 ISBN: 9781455197941
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William Stoner is born at the end of the nineteenth century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar’s life, far different from the hardscrabble existence he has known. And yet as the years pass, Stoner encounters a succession of disappointments: marriage into a “proper” family estranges him from his parents; his career is stymied; his wife and daughter turn coldly away from him; a transforming experience of new love ends under threat of scandal. Driven ever deeper within himself, Stoner rediscovers the stoic silence of his forebears and confronts an essential solitude.

John Williams’ luminous and deeply moving novel is a work of quiet perfection. William Stoner emerges from it not only as an archetypal American, but as an unlikely existential hero, standing, like a figure in a painting by Edward Hopper, in stark relief against an unforgiving world.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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, New York Times bestselling author

  • “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, Academy Award-winning actor, on Stoner, one of his top five favorite books

  • “A masterly portrait of a truly virtuous and dedicated man.”

    New Yorker

  • “A perfect novel, so well told and beautifully written, so deeply moving, that it takes your breath away.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “An exquisite study, bleak as Hopper, of a hopelessly honest academic at a meretricious Midwestern university. I had not known…that the kind of unsparing portrait of failed marriage shown in Stoner existed before John Cheever.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Serious, beautiful and affecting, what makes Stoner so impressive is the contained intensity the author and character share.”

    New Republic

  • “It’s beautifully written in simple but brilliant prose, a novel of an ordinary life, an examination of a quiet tragedy.”

    Ruth Rendell, Edgar Award-winning author on Stoner as her choice for book of the year

  • 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, author of (Not That You Asked)

  • “Robin Field fully inhabits Stoner’s character, dragging every morsel of tragedy, inevitability and, occasionally, wiliness and joy from Williams’ understated writing. Field’s performance helps us understand that an ordinary person’s life is still grand, emotional, and worthy. Originally published in 1965 and recently reissued, Stoner is a small miracle of a novel that is enhanced by a narrator who is a perfect match. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”

    AudioFile

  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bobbie | 2/16/2014

    " A quiet book, wonderfully written, that keeps you intrigued as you travel through the life of William Stoner. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dpwarzyn | 2/15/2014

    " Brilliant, quiet, masterpiece. There are books one reads where one learns so much, confirms things one thought might be true. People from California should read this book so they understand people from the Midwest. There is poetry here, some of it happy, some of it sad, all of it true. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Betsy Sneath | 1/30/2014

    " I liked this alot. And yes, it was depressing, but the story could take place now, and still be believable. I had never heard of this author or book, and am so glad I read it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brendan | 1/23/2014

    " The author forces you to watch his protagonist die from the first page and does it with such cold-blooded acumen that you might only hope you're boiled to death or shot so as to save yourself the trenchant horror of natural passing. There is no way a rational being could leave this work outside the canon of genius novels. I would not recommend this book to anyone I really cared about. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Momanddad | 1/9/2014

    " Tom Hanks said that everyone should read this American Classic and I did. I felt Stoner had a sad pathethic life and the whole story made me really said for all the characters. The book was well written but life should have more joy. I hope it isn't a true American classic. It was so sad. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Flexnib | 12/19/2013

    " Understated and beautifully written story of a man's life. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Viv | 12/17/2013

    " Very disappointing. A good guy who builds himself up from nothing; but whose life is ruined by a bad choice in marriage to a spoilt, snobbish, totally domineering and evil wife, Edith, who can simply be described as the wicked witch. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Leslie | 10/26/2013

    " Blah story of a Midwestern professor set in midwest from approx 1930-1950, crazy frigid wife, affair, etc. etc. Written by an academic for other academics and the "prize" judges; I found the writing very self-conscious. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Trish | 8/9/2013

    " Prose was wonderful. Sad story for the most part with some glimpses of hope and human strength "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erik Simon | 7/27/2013

    " I loaned this book to a friend, and he said, "I have no idea how Williams wrote a book that could simultaneously be so hopeful yet so depresseing." That says it best. John Williams wrote only four novels, and three are masterpieces. This book about a teacher will break your heart. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynn | 7/26/2013

    " Perfection. Not to be missed "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karl | 5/28/2013

    " This well-known novel by John Williams is about an English professor named William Stoner and takes place primarily in the 1920's to 40's. His life struggles both professionally and at home are so well told the story is very engaging. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert Hoogstad | 5/21/2013

    " Wat een goed boek, prachtige stijl, mooi zonder hoogdraverij, zoals alleen echt goede schrijvers dat kunnen. Adembenemend verteld. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark Saunders | 5/3/2013

    " A bracingly honest book that is gripping for reasons that are difficult to say. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ashley | 4/3/2013

    " A friend gave this to me for my birthday a year or so ago. It is a delight from beginning to end. Wise and beautifully written. Sadly, I believe it's out of print. I'd be happy to lend my copy out, though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alex Gleason | 3/25/2013

    " Not to be missed. Would have been five stars, but for the end. Still, a revelation. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debra | 2/19/2013

    " wonderful...not a wasted word "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susanne | 6/13/2012

    " Prachtig, droevig, eenzaam, ingetogen verhaal over het leven van William Stoner. Een doodgewone man, een doodgewoon leven (nou ja), dicht op de huid geschreven, zo dicht, dat je Stoner af en toe een zetje in de goede richting zou willen geven. Het einde gaf me brandende ogen. Aanrader! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie | 1/18/2012

    " A book, a life, a few bumps, and a few joys make a lovely read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angela | 11/20/2011

    " A narrative book with little dialogue, I never thought I would enjoy it but did. It takes a good writer to create a book that tells the story which is really about a very ordinary life without frills or overexcitement and still make it a very interesting book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sandy | 5/20/2011

    " John Williams 1922-1994 author, character's lives seem predestined and void of free will. The tragedy of lives "lived in quiet desperation". "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brian | 5/18/2011

    " Probablyy the best written novel I have ever read. It sounds quite ordinary in synopsis but is a real page-turner. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Isaac | 5/6/2011

    " a good life story. very Midwestern in its language and lack of affectation. great portrayal of university life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wanda | 4/21/2011

    " This was just a beautiful novel. Though some may think it sad---read it with an open heart and you will find it to be a true pleasure. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kingklam | 4/20/2011

    " A little harrowing in the face of inevitable mid life crisis. Almost a perfect book. Thanks WTB. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sharon | 4/11/2011

    " Excellent although a little dark at times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Risa | 3/30/2011

    " This book has one of the most authentic (if we can know) and sensitive descriptions of the experience of dying that I have ever read. "

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