Darn dog did it again, retrieved me from pleasant dreams at an ungodly hour, and so I’ve just finished Stoner in this morning’s dense fog. What a wonderful story of a humble, decent midwesterner not unlike some I’ve known, of a life “dedicated to teaching” in a place I knew so well as a neophyte learner decades ago, Columbia, MO. Concluding in the years just before my arrival, its themes of personal perseverance and generational persistence are resonant, serious, and hugely entertaining. The fictional dedication “to WS” gratifies the reader, one imagines, as much as it would its subject, and makes a much larger statement about real dedication.

I understand the devoted readership it’s inspired, and the author’s surprise that some found it a sad tale rather than an affirmation of life and love as drops in the on-flowing stream of civilization. He called it an “escape into reality,” and that’s precisely the paradox of mental transport that great literature can afford. Worth losing a little sleep over.

5:45/5:34, 73/92/65, 8:07

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