The story evolves so gently and quietly that talking about it feels like tainting it and violently intruding on something that prefers to be left in peace. This has as much to do with the story’s subtle and eluding tone, as with the parallel narrative. Stoner is a quiet and gentle men with the purest of intentions, but which, as it often happens, get tainted when materialized. His life advances in an isolated manner, devoid of the force that transforms a thought into action or the knowledge of how to use it.
Stoner grows up on a farm and lacks the notions of the bigger world’s complexities. When he, by coincidence, discovers literature and the academic world, the consequences are two-sided. Knowing hard work, he progress quickly. Lacking experience, he isn’t able to connect his own life with this imaginary world and instead, separates them completely. Since the new world has nothing to do with the former one – it is exempt from monotonous, repetitive, manual work and is full of wonder, novelty and flights of thought – he finds in it a perfect hideaway. It is a place where the practical life can’t intrude and the daily problems can’t invade, but where the inputs still have straightforward outputs and things are as simple as they sometimes were. The worse his domestic life gets, the more he retreats to studies; the more he masters the written word, the less he can articulate his own everyday. The two worlds become so isolated that even a desperate cry for help from his nearest turns into a distant call from a faraway land. Despite all the theoretical knowledge, he doesn’t have the tools to question and resist his own life course.
This book is a monument to the mundane, to the paths we choose without really choosing, to the joys and sorrows that coincidences distribute unevenly among people, and of a life that has much more within its reach, yet stays motionless and trapped between opposing forces. With simple, but deeply moving sentences it portrays a correspondent story. As many monuments, it captures a moment of life and provides a humble warning for those who are inclined to follow his path.