‘Truly A Book To Capture It All’ – Review of Stoner by John Williams


He had wanted the singleness and the still connective passion of marriage; he had that, too, and he had not known what to do with it, and it had died. He wanted love; and he had had love, and had relinquished it, had let it go into the chaos of imagepotentiality.

Katherine, he thought. ‘Katherine.’

And he had wanted to become a teacher, and he had become one; yet he knew, he had always known, that for the most of his life he had been an indifferent one. He had dreamed of a kind of integrity, of a kind of purity that was entire; he had found compromise and the assaulting diversion of triviality. He had conceived wisdom, and at the end of the long years he had found ignorance.

Stoner by John Williams, page 285


Stoner, by John Williams, an usual book to start. But. Totally encapsulating. Containing so much feeling, meaning experience. I will give my review of the book, not really a formal review, but one looking and reflecting on the book, feeling and experience of reading it. I endeavour not to mention explicit spoilers, but I do mention my emotional experiences reading it and the emotions it passed onto me (the inspiration for my poem ‘Feelings Not My Own’)

Stoner, a book of an experience, an experience of fiction, but somewhat real. The feelings it portrays are totally real and totally thrust me into the story, caring, experiencing and feeling.

All of the poems that I wrote yesterday, took inspiration from the book, around the section of the above quote, I had to stop. To savour experiencing the end, the feeling, when I could concentrate and experience without distraction and reflect through this blogpost.

The feelings this book can capture and enstill on the reader, are immense, I would describe this book as an emotional rollercoaster. The feelings of love, happiness, existence and passion, but, at least for me, the book seems to emphasise negative feelings. But not ‘negative feelings’ in the conventional sense. I would describe these feelings as negative, but without feeling, a portrayal of the reality behind existence, the reality behind being, the existence of life, and one’s place within it. Here I shall endeavour to encapsulate my feelings and experiences in regards to the book in its totality:


The discovery and ecstacy of love, finding a crush, the feelings behind planning, the future and struggling and succeeding despite all adversity. The choices to be made in life, choices that make us, shape us, define us. The choices we make, the choices that aren’t owned by ourselves, until we make the decision. Then the choice becomes ours, becomes personal and meaningful. There is also the adversity of life not overcome, adversity in existence, the tiresome living, the hurting of family and friends, the loss of those we care for.

The watching as life rolls by, and we make what we can, leave our mark but inevitably fail to find conventional ‘happiness’, but, find a form of contentment out of the adversity, contentment with pain and dissatisfaction, not out of choice, but out of necessity to keep on living. The pain and somewhat helplessness in dealing with situations and people encountered in life.

The friendships made and kept and solidified through truth, adversity, hardship and mutual love and care. As life goes on, never enough time, never enough done, never enough success to make one feel full and content, nevertheless contentment and perseverence and change to overcome all adversity.

It is totally encapsulating a feeling I cannot express with words; a feeling of contentment out of unrelenting discontentment, of existing without achievement, but continuing to persevere for your aims and continue to keep journeying to achieve them, even if you never actually achieve them, you make the journey anyway and contently, live out your life with the aim in mind, the objective aimed for.

The book’s ending (from around page 285 until the end), I will try not to spoil (as much as I can while expressing my more affective ‘review’). One that encapsulates the book, the ending, a fitting end, one that captures and summarises the whole book, not in a repetitive manner, but one suitable to, in my opinion, its aimed portrayal, of life, without highlight of the good times, without hiding the bad times, but merely portraying human experience, in a way that truly resonated with me. The portrayal of sadness, closing, finality and happiness, dissatisfaction, reminiscing and also summarising and deep-contemplation. The very last page. Written to perfection. Even thinking of it, causes my eyes to well-up. A perfect, concise, summarised end. Like the finalities found in everyday living, without show, or celebration, without positivity or negativity, just sweet, maybe reluctant, but nevertheless final, end. Drifting off into silence. As the words on the page end with the final period… and then… silence.


A powerful story, I know that I paint a bleak picture of the novel, but, it is more than this. It’s more than the sum of its parts (not to mention the subjective experience of the reader that needs not be said). It is a book, not everyone will like, it’s writing is definitely unconventional, but I find this is its beauty, it captures reality, as nothing else does. Captures reality, much like my poetry does for me, and also the poetry I read from many others on WordPress. Capturing reality, for what it is. The highs of the good experience, the lows of the bad. The real life existence. The one we share, both content, and also discontent.

Although I say it’s a novel that not everyone will ‘like’, I would say that I think everyone should give it a read. I would unapologetically be happy to suggest this  novel to anyone I know, especially anyone I feel comfortable to talk to about personal and emotional matters.

To personally summarise this novel and my experience reading it in very few words:

A book that captures reality. For what it is.

 

 

I would like to write a note, to my very close friend who gifted this novel to me, inspirsation for ‘Little Gift From the Heart‘, thank you so very much for this book. I sure hope that you do not see this review, and if you do… that you do not think it too harsh, or feel the book’s been a saddening experience. It has been a realistic experience, a vicarious living and experiencing of a life, not my own. Yet also I see past experiences, events, ways of thinking also appear throughout this book, almost every couple of pages. This book was a mixed experience to read, but an invaluable one, and one I am a better person for reading. Thank you, thank you very much Ruby.

What Did You Expect?

What did you expect?

The question asked, wondering into the future,

Asking into the unknown.

Asking of life.

Expectation and reality.

An ever-questioning presence.

The possibility and reality.

The potentiality, the presence.

The being and the change.

What did you expect? From what has happened.

How it has progressed.

Was this the way it should be? Had to be? Was?

What did you expect from what has come?

What did you expect?

Feelings Not My Own

Feelings, not my own.

Of a person I’ve never known.

The experiences and feelings,

Alien, yet so familiar.

My own, and not so,

At the same time.

The places been, feelings felt.

The time ongoing and drifting away.

The solidarity felt with an unknown being.

The feeling, both alien and familiar.

Brother and stranger.

The feelings felt, but not my own.

Feelings felt,

Onwards and drifting into unknown experiences.

These feelings,

Not my own.

To Those Who Try To Help

To those who try to help,

Those who continue to believe in me.

I’m sorry.

The path I take, I try to make.

The doors closing on me,

A lost cause.

A hopeless mess,

When I’ve come so far.

All thrown back into my face.

As I try to make my way.

The path I try to plot, to escape the darkness of uncertainty.

I’m sorry.

The path is lost,

The bearings lost too.

Left adrift.

Left losing the will.

Left with loss,

Loss of all, of mind, will and soul.

To those who try to help,

My gratitude is yours,

But I am left adrift at sea,

Drowning in uncertainty.

Without a place to turn.

The mind cannibalising itself,

Worries manifesting,

Uncertainty growing.

I’m sorry.

To all those who try to help.

I’m lost.

And I’m sorry.

Awake I Lie

Awake I lie,

Thoughts racing,

Trouble brewing.

The uncertain future.

Perseverance to clear a path,

Draining my life through this troubled storm.

The turbulent seas,

Uncertain paths without any horizon.

Chatting a path through the darkness.

Left without a heading.

Attempt after attempt.

Storms keep bashing my direction into darkness.

Awake a lie,

Thinking of the troubles to come,

Looking for a heading.

Looking for an option.

For a way out.

All direction and certainty lost to the depths.

Lost to the darkness,

The horizon unseen.

Awake I lie,

Pondering these questions,

Without direction.

Without heading.

Looking into the darkness and uncertainty.

Taking a step at a time.

Without heading, without knowing.

Hoping, persevering, to find my way.

To find a path.

All, as I lie awake.

Restless Anxiety

Restless anxiety, over the path to taken,
The direction to be found,
The direction to make,

The anxiety surrounding it,

A restlessness,
Unsatisfied to wait,
The urge to do,
One task found, the anxiety continues
The task put down, for another.
Only for the continued anxiety to ensue,
To another change.

The anxiety,
Stopping me from rest,
From reading,
From enjoying the sunlight.

Movement to and fro,
An emptiness of loss,
Loss of path.
Loss of knowing.

Dissatisfaction from the end.

An unsure life that I leave,
The foundation pulled from under me,
Thrown into the dark ocean of uncertainty.

Hurt, left.

Empty and hurting.

Loss of meaning,

Apathy to everything.

An emptiness to consume all.

An emptiness to corrupt all.

Left. In the dark. With and through.

This restless anxiety.

The Path

The path, journey,

The ups and downs,

And on it goes, through this path,

A on-going gradual path,

Into the sunlight,

Into night.

Into life.

The path walked,

Many times, and never simultaneously.

The times shared, the sun felt.

The sound of the guitar in the backdrop.

The sun setting on the horizon,

To be followed by night, then day.

The ongoing times, of sun and bright feelings.

The need to remember, the need to hold on.

An emotional rollercoaster,

Of ecstasy and emptiness.

The times gone through.

The experiences felt.

The sun shining down on the ground.

On the warm face,

The light.

The happiness and sadness.

Both at one.

Together in feeling.

Both making us human.

This is the ongoing path.

The confusion and doubt, with the aftertaste of faith.

The need for meaning,

The meaning behind being.

The grace of living, loving, being and making use of the finite time.

The time to be spent,

Loved,

Lived.

That path taken. That path of life.

The path we all walk.

The path.
Written reflecting on the book ‘Stoner’ by John Williams

Forgetting The Day

The warm summer sun,

The glaring heat,

Scorching clean the earth to barren wastelands,

The waves of heat crossing, moving, gradually creeping across this landscape.

Moving onward,

People flock to see the spectacle,

The salty sea breeze,

The bright sun,

The glaring beach

A time out.

A time away.

A time, to forget the day.

Those Empty Days

Those empty days, empty times,

Looking to those memories,
Good and bad,

Wondering where they’ve gone.
Left without a feeling,
Feeling lost.

These empty days that pass,
That give,
That hurt and leave one wondering.

Leaving one empty,
Sitting and staring,
Thinking and living.
Wondering.

Of those empty days that come.
The welling feeling,
Thinking and hoping,
For the next opportunity,
To feel alive,
To feel meaning,
To feel like a living being,
Rather than an empty object,
A piece of the furniture.

Thinking of those memories,
The good and the bad.
Of the times I felt,
The times, that have gone and past.

Waiting through those empty days,
Where the feeling overwhelms you,
The feeling of lacking just that.
Feeling.

Through these empty days.