Stoner by John Williams
The symmetry between the mind and the soul is never defined until one dims the other. Only then is the remarkable savoring of a life lived. Life steps away from the shadows. When the depth of height and the strength of weakness stand shoulder to shoulder. The pleasures left somewhere behind as we turn to the wealth of experience and the absurdity of life. Is it one’s experience that creates a memory or is it a skin one sheds to metamorphose? To know John Williams’s Stoner is to feel the permanence of a solitary heartache. Through the story’s stoical and fleeting elements - the university campus, the marriage, the love, and the child - the fiction shapes time in masterful strokes. The book is the substance that consumes itself; the animal that chases itself away; and the sea that drowns itself. A profound and unexpected meditation on why the whole self is never complete. Why life is but a tree, placed just outside our window, straying its branches as far as the eyes can see.
And why, as that tree swells its roots and trunk and leaves, we turn from air to matter to air just to nurture it. How indifferently we look upon this tree of life in light and darkness, grant it our fierce consciousness and love, and salvage every trembling leaf that blows away.
Stoner dictates a life detached from the past, present, and future. It is a blip in writing; a timeless illusion, perhaps the only one ever written. I believe no other parable of time can give us what Stoner does. Perhaps to come so near it is to painfully admit that nothing ever will.