Sunday, March 18, 2012

Stoner- AKA The Best Thing you will read, ever

I frequently construct random lists of my favourite things in my head, while driving or working or whatever, to imply I am a discerning individual with taste and standards and not just an arbitrary sampler of books, movies, music, pop culture, opinions, ideologies, oh no no, of course not.

Top five Coen movies, top five ideal book to movie adaptations, top whatever comedic novels, possible actors for the modern day movie adaption of Jane Austen's Persuasion that I will make someday and it will be awesome. Top five teen fiction series which don't offend my feminazi sensabilities.

Optimum reading schedule of sections in Irish Times weekend. Top five actually awesome female writers that are being woefully undermarketted. Top three Sinead O'Connor songs for performing at impromptu karaoke sessions. Top 600 awesome CJ Gregg oneliners [twoliners? Lets not be priggish about this; many of CJ's best lines are rebuttals]. Top five Nicholas Sparks novels. No no wait that was actually a joke.  Who actually reads more than one Nicholas Sparks novel without dying of saccharine poisoning.

Can you taste the sexy?  My interior monologue is dripping in sex, drugs and rock and roll, dudes. Point is, these lists/catologues are predictably private, dumb and pointless and subject to the dull cull of my caprices from time to time but one remains, like an totemic tenat of my cultural leanings:  John Williams' Stoner. Have you read it?  Why the hell not?

First and most presiecnt: its brilliant. Briiiiiiliant. You'll buy it or pick it up in your local library and think: "fuck, this looks like heavy going" cos I've seen four differnt covers for it and all of them are terrible. Ha ha aha it ain't. Jokes on you, bucko. This shit is SOLIDLY great.

It kicks off as the tale of a farm boy, William Stoner, hardships and pennypinching-ness a plenty, who's sent to college in urban Missouri in the 1930s to study AgSci 'cos his Mid-West father, foresight included, realises he'll need some educashun to get the family farm through to the next generation.  Our boy finds college a magical highway to learning, discourse and self-discovery and, changing his major to English, discovers all that symbolic shit that the moving from Ag Science to English for love of the subject entails.  Pissed off at such a formalaic setup?  THATS ONLY THE SETUP, PALS. The real shit happens now.

 William Stoner is everyman, bitches. He loves literature of course, which some people might not (WHO ARE THESE ANIMALS) but otherwise he's just a typical young man who decides to follow a different career path than the one his family had set him. And oh jesus is it a sore lesson This is where you learn about breaking your parents' heart, fellas.  Over the next thirty years he sits out a war, is promoted, recommended by all, expands, grows, learns and then is mollified and condemned by his department and college; all the while being the best guy you could never ever meet cos he's too sound. He marries unadvisedly - you'll be yelling at the page to stop him- and he has a daughter who he cherishes and is torn away from. And then there's one of the most tender, realistic love affairs ever to attempt a salty toast.  Arrrrg.

It's brilliant, beautiful, sad and contemporaneous. Read it, you empty headed dolt. 

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