Stoner by John Williams.

stoner

The sleeper hit of last year.  Written in 1963, it charts the life of Stoner, an academic at an American University.  His tough farming upbringing, the epiphany in his compulsory English class on his Agriculture course, his marriage, love affair, university politics and his eventual demise are described with readable concision rarely encountered.  Are men like Stoner the true heros in life ?  I loved this novel and will seek out the rest of Williams’ books.

The White Hotel by DM Thomas

white

I’m glad I read this on holiday, as it deserves the reader’s undivided attention.  Split into several sections, part poetry, part prose, it is the story of a woman who lives through turbulent times in Europe last century.  She is treated by Freud and we are let into the development of the analysis through an erotic dream-poem and a series of letters, along with the woman’s account of her visits.  There are times when you are ready to throw in the towel, especially as Freud’s interpretations are so unfashionable these days, however the book moves swiftly on to an account of the woman’s experiences in the holocaust and pulls the novel together brilliantly at the end with allusions to her ability to see future events.  The novel reminded me how I felt when I finished AS Byatt’s Possession; exhausted, exhilarated and intellectually challenged.

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