Stoner

      John Williams
Stoner

The son of a Midwestern farmer, William Stoner comes to the University of Missouri in 1910 to study agriculture. He had intended to return home and take over his father's farm - but instead, inspired by the professor of English literature, he remains at the university to teach. Stoner tells of love and conflict, passion and responsibility against the backdrop of academic life in the early 20th century. Powerfully and movingly written, Stoner is a study of a dedicated man relentlessly committed to honesty in himself and in his dealings with others. The truth of one man's unassuming life can rarely have been captured with such skill and beauty.


Read online

    Butcher's Crossing

      John Williams
Butcher's Crossing

In his National Book Award–winning novel Augustus, John Williams uncovered the secrets of ancient Rome. With Butcher’s Crossing, his fiercely intelligent, beautifully written western, Williams dismantles the myths of modern America.

It is the 1870s, and Will Andrews, fired up by Emerson to seek “an original relation to nature,” drops out of Harvard and heads west. He washes up in Butcher’s Crossing, a small Kansas town on the outskirts of nowhere. Butcher’s Crossing is full of restless men looking for ways to make money and ways to waste it. Before long Andrews strikes up a friendship with one of them, a man who regales Andrews with tales of immense herds of buffalo, ready for the taking, hidden away in a beautiful valley deep in the Colorado Rockies. He convinces Andrews to join in an expedition to track the animals down. The journey out is grueling, but at the end is a place of paradisal richness. Once there, however, the three men abandon themselves to an orgy of slaughter, so caught up in killing buffalo that they lose all sense of time. Winter soon overtakes them: they are snowed in. Next spring, half-insane with cabin fever, cold, and hunger, they stagger back to Butcher’s Crossing to find a world as irremediably changed as they have been.


Read online

    Augustus

      John Williams
Augustus

Winner of the 1973 National Book Award

In Augustus, the third of his great novels, John Williams took on an entirely new challenge, a historical novel set in classical Rome, exploring the life of the founder of the Roman Empire, whose greatness was matched by his brutality. To tell the story, Williams also turned to a genre, the epistolary novel, that was new to him, transforming and transcending it just as he did the western in Butcher's Crossing and the campus novel in Stoner. Augustus is the final triumph of a writer who has come to be recognized around the world as an American master.

"[In Augustus,] John Williams re-creates the Roman Empire from the death of Julius Caesar to the last days of Augustus, the machinations of the court, the Senate, and the people, from the sickly boy to the sickly man who almost dies during expeditions to what would seem to be the ruthless ruler. He uses an epistolary, polylogic format, and in the end all these voices, like a collage, meld together around the main character. Monologue becomes action, but action never becomes character. Instead, an image of brutality questions its own origins. Read it in conjunction with Robert Graves's more flamboyant Claudius and Claudius the God, Hermann Broch's * The Death of Virgil, and Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian*." —Harold Augenbraum, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation


Read online

    My Son's Not Rainman: One Man, One Boy, a Million Adventures

      John Williams
My Son's Not Rainman: One Man, One Boy, a Million Adventures

Heartfelt, funny, and ultimately uplifting, one father discusses the life of a single dad raising a son who just so happens to have autism

My Son's Not Rainman is a heartfelt and uplifting account of everyday events in the life of John and his son (The Boy). The Boy is 12 years old and autistic. He isn't a genius. His only special power is making his dad laugh. A lot. Following the success of the blog of the same name, John talks not just about the difficulties of having a child who is considered "different" but also the joy of living with someone who looks at the world in a unique way. This isn't a story about autism. It's a story about a young boy who happens to have autism, and there is a big difference. It does relate the struggles of getting a diagnosis for The Boy and the dismay of having his child excluded from schools. However, John very rarely dwells on the downside of his son's condition, preferring instead to look at the happiness and insight his son has given him. Funny and heart-warming, this is a book about living with the often frustrating and bewildering, but always fascinating, world of the autistic mind. It's about finding the positive in everything, from the joy and wonder of the Special School Disco to the unadulterated thrill of getting the front seat on the Docklands Light Railway. Ultimately, it's a celebration of what it really means to be different.


Read online