Meandering Em's

Passion is books, photography, running and traveling. Also passionate about environmental issues.

Life of a Man

Stoner - John Edward Williams

Stoner is about one man, from birth to death.  Using beautiful language, the author tells about the harsh early life on a farm near Boonville, MO.  William Stoner was given an opportunity to go to the University of Missouri in order to get a degree in the College of Agriculture and then come home to help his parents farm the land.  Instead, Stoner falls in love with English literature and gets his degree(s).  He then becomes a teacher at the University of Missouri until his death.

 

Stoner was fascinating and readable.  Some of the people did and said things that were not logical or reasonable.  I didn't understand the motivation of Sloane and Edith, Stoner's mentor and wife, respectively.  I really didn't like Stoner either.  In many ways he was too passive and weak.  He allowed his wife to make decisions about their house and about their child, Grace.  He knew that his wife was destroying his daughter, but seemed helpless to stop the abuse.

 

Stoner did show some character in his conflict with Lomax, a fellow professor.  Lomax had a graduate student, Walker, who was incompetent, lazy and dishonest.  Lomax wanted Stoner to pass this student and Stoner refused.  Lomax began a campaign to discredit Stoner and almost succeeded.

 

Stoner seems to be failure in this book, yet he was a teacher, doing a job he loved. He had a book published. Many people in the world would love the same opportunities.  He had some financial woes, but it was not a crushing problem. 

 

I have been to Boonville and Columbia, Missouri so the descriptions of the different seasons rang true.  I love how the campus is described and how it changed over forty years.

 

One thing that was depressing was the description of everyone's lives.  There was no purpose and meaning for life.  Much of the book, Stoner is described as being numb.  Others were described as having a dull face or lifeless (dead) eyes.  People seldom looked each other in the eyes.  Then it occurred to me, why?  These people had a worthless, senseless life because God was not part of it.  A long life without God means a long life without purpose or hope.  

Currently reading

The Waiting Years
Fumiko Enchi
Progress: 94/208 pages
Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock
Derrick Z. Jackson, Stephen W. Kress
Progress: 33/376 pages