‘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.

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.

Pit Of Despair

Left in my pit of despair,

My home away from home.

The place I can call my own.

The prison of my mind.

The rushed desperation.

The hurt and hatred.

Irrational feelings and pain.

The rage and hurt.

This pit I find myself.

The rage and my despair,

The rushing pain.

Throwing me from comfort.

Down into pain and hurt.

Left alone, choking, in my pit of despair. 

My Affliction.

Memory of what should be let go.

Hearing that mustn’t be heard.

Senses heightened, for what shouldn’t be known.

To let myself live, in the present. At all.

The affliction of knowing, when one should ignore.

Caring too much as I need to break out.

Break my chains, my mind and spirit.

Break apart all that is held together.

Broken and shattered through my affliction.

Left Alone

Left alone,

That’s how it goes,

First to start,

Last to stop.

Left alone and predicted this,

That’s the way it goes.

The inevitable end.

The continuous path,

Expected and to be expected.

Left down, like a person with nothing left.

And loving it.

The rage and realisation.

The life and the longing.

The buildup and expectations.

The waiting and expectation.

Going on alone, as I know I must go.

The ongoing movement through time.

This onward treading.

The way it goes, and the way it must.

Ready for the shit that comes, as it always will.

No me gusta.

But that is life, the one I live.

The one I’ve been given.

The one I have and have to make.

The way I live, the way I go.

The good turning chaotic,

The way going blank.

The path turning off.

The way fading to black.

Living in the darkness and making it my own.

Owning the life that I lead.

Holding on tight to the war inside my mind.

Facing my firing squad.

Smiling in the face of it all,

In the face of the darkness and the pain.

Spitting in the face of death and darkness.

Making it mine,

Commanding it to my will and presence.

My will, it will become mine.

The path I must take,

Alone and smile.

The lonely road I walk.

To spit in the face of it all.

To face my fate,

To face my demons.

Spit in the face of it all.

The sinner of the world,

Of the darkness and the pain.

The path I walk.

The way I move.

The way I drift back and forth,

Drift off into the darkness,

Into my life eternal,

The eternal pain, ongoing and suffering.

To walk on and out,

Off into darkness.

On and off I go,

Moving on into the night.

Into the life that awaits.

This darkness I delve into,

Fight,

Rage,

Win.

Taking the pain,

Making it my own,

Making it mine.

Holding on in and through the rage.

Loving it with life as my witness.

Cutting the chord.

Stringing myself up in this life.

Loving ever second.

This rage and love,

Happiness and courage.

Weakness and strength.

Left alone, waking to my destination. The noose of the depths of the ocean.

And on I continue, left alone to my inevitable path.

Just Want To Forget.

Just want to forget,

To erase my mind,

To go on living,

As I try to make something of myself,

Get myself out of the dark ocean.

To set sail out into my world of my own.

To forget the darkness of the past,

The times to be forgotten.

To make my escape.

To start anew,

My new self, a new life.

The end of me.

Just wanting to forget, so I can escape.

Just want to forget.

You Turn Away

You said you’d be there.

All you do is turn away when I need a friend,

Someone to show me I’m not totally alone.

As I have done for you,

Never wanting you to feel you had no one to talk to.

Never wanting you to feel at the edge with no other option.

Clearly, I am not deserving of this feeling. Those sentiments.

The words, from your lips. A lie. Empty.

Empty words, worse than none at all.

Empty words, rip away the comfort they once gave. Just as you turn away.

Leaving me alone.

With no one,

To see,

To ask.

To question am I wrong.

To gather, to wonder.

I merely sit here in darkness.

Wondering how all I love, all I care about.

Turns away and leaves me.

I knew the Problem. I have a Solution. Is it the Right One…

Written, when I had a good night, a great night, one where the problem’s that’s been plaguing my mind had pretty much been completely driven out, even right now after the event’s over. I ask all my friends who see this, or anyone who cars, even with the vague information. What is your true opinion on this matter as I attempt to describe?


 

I knew the problem, I know the problem.
I’ve seen the answer, a way out, a way out from this torture of ‘continuing’.

But I also see the solution’s flaws, it’s delaying the hardship I currently face,
Offers potential for escape, but most likely a recurrence at a later time.

It fills me with joy, happiness, care,
love.

Something I haven’t felt in a long time…

 

Nevertheless it merely delays a potential problem, a regression of symptoms to an earlier stage.
Providing possible escape, but only very slim chances for this.

This is the only way, the only window, to the outside.
The outside of the darkness and solitude of my mind.
It has given me hope,
Given me something to go for,
To live for,
To hope for,
To ‘want’ for

The problems have not gone.
They have been put aside,
Only in my current state of mind.

But this must be captured,
Carefully,
Specifically,
In every way possible,

To offer me potential for escape when I wake up from this pleasant dream.
When I wake up to the nightmare.

For now I know a solution where none laid before.
But is it the right one?
Will it only delay the problem?
Is the problem inevitable?

It’s worth a try isn’t it?

Dive Right in to Save You

Again, on the topic of helping those it hurts to help.


 

Diving into the black sea,
I take hold of your hand,
Panicked, wild and scared
Push you out of the darkness and into the light

I keep you afloat,
You’ll never be alone, as long as I am here

To hold you in times of sadness
To reassure you in times of doubt
To help you in anything you do

A hand, always outstretched for you,
Arms outstretched to hold you
Heart open, to warm you.

 

Yet the realisation hits you.

You’ve got out of this darkness,
And left me to drown
I like this, the hurt. The pain.
The feeling of being used.
The feeling of worthlessness.

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

You are safe, and happy,

I just wish you could be…
Without me drowning.