We had a great meetup last night when we discussed Stoner by John Williams.
Here is a synopsis from Waterstones about it:
"William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. A seminar on English literature changes his life, and he never returns to work on his father's farm. Stoner becomes a teacher. He marries the wrong woman. His life is quiet, and after his death his colleagues remember him rarely. Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value. Stoner tells of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history, and reclaims the significance of an individual life. A reading experience like no other, itself a paean to the power of literature, it is a novel to be savoured."
Despite the seeming mudane subject matter it was a really quick read ( I started it on Monday and finished it on Tuesday ) because of the quality of writing. We all loved the "everyman" style of the story. It began with the author informing us of the death of the Stoner - one of us described the novel as " an extended eulogy of his life". The novel then went on to explore the nature of love, life's passions, humanity, self identity, the futility of war and the inevitability of death.
We then voted for the next book:
The options were:
Babak - The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides ( 6 votes )
Hannah - The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides ( 0 votes )
The winner was:
Jennifer - Harvest by Jim Crace ( 9 votes )
Here is a synopsis from Waterstones about it:
"As late summer steals in and the final pearls of barley are gleaned, a village comes under threat. A trio of outsiders -- two men and a dangerously magnetic woman -- arrives on the woodland borders and puts up a make-shift camp. That same night, the local manor house is set on fire. Over the course of seven days, Walter Thirsk sees his hamlet unmade: the harvest blackened by smoke and fear, the new arrivals cruelly punished, and his neighbours held captive on suspicion of witchcraft. But something even darker is at the heart of his story, and he will be the only man left to tell it ...Told in Jim Crace's hypnotic prose, Harvest evokes the tragedy of land pillaged and communities scattered, as England's fields are irrevocably enclosed. Timeless yet singular, mythical yet deeply personal, this beautiful novel of one man and his unnamed village speaks for a way of life lost for ever"
It was very ably described to us by Jennifer and Dennis. It's set at the turn of the 17th century but has echoes of the current political and econimic climate in America.
I'm really looking forward to reading it.
Hope to see you then,
During the voting we also discussed The Kills by Richard House a potential option from Dennis:
"Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013. This is The Kills: Sutler, The Massive, The Kill, The Hit. The Kills is an epic novel of crime and conspiracy told in four books. It begins with a man on the run and ends with a burned body. Moving across continents, characters and genres, there will be no more ambitious or exciting novel in 2013. . Plot summary: Camp Liberty is an unmanned staging-post in Amrah province, Iraq; the place where the detritus of the war is buried, incinerated, removed from memory. Until, suddenly, plans are announced to transform it into the largest military base in the country, codenamed the Massive, with a post-war strategy to convert the site for civilian use. Contracted by HOSCO, the insidious company responsible for overseeing the Massive, Rem Gunnerson finds himself unwittingly commanding a disparate group of economic mercenaries at Camp Liberty when the mysterious Stephen Lawrence Sutler arrives. As the men are played against each other by HOSCO the situation grows increasingly tense. And then everything changes. An explosion. An attack on a regional government office. When the dust settles it emerges that Sutler has disappeared, and over fifty million dollars of reconstruction funds are missing. Sutler finds himself accused and on the run. Gunnerson and his men want revenge for months of abuse and misinformation. Out of the chaos a man named Paul Geezler rises to restore order, a man more involved than he's willing to admit. And then there's the vicious murder of an American student in Italy. A murder that replicates exactly the details of a well-known novel"
I was fascinated by it because it has a ground-breaking collaboration between author and publisher,the novel contains multimedia content that takes the reader beyond the boundaries of the book and into the characters' lives outside its pages. This material and much more can be found on http://www.thekills.co.uk
Dennis decided to withdraw it because it is 1024 pages across the four books. But I might get it anyway and read all four books over a few months