"Stoner" is one of my favourite novels. Like many other fans, I'm not sure why it's not more widely known. By those familiar with it, Stoner is often regarded as the best novel about academic life. Yesterday, I came across an excellent review of the book in the Sewanee Review (118. 3 (Summer 2010): 417-422,98.) by Mel Livatino. You'll need access to a university library or similar to access it, but if you can you should. Here are a few key pars from the review:
In nearly fifty years of reading fiction, I have never encountered a more powerful novel - and not a syllable of it sentimental. Williams performs this feat by attending carefully to the soul of William Stoner and the tragic circumstances of his life.
The most famous appraisal of the novel came from C. P. Snow upon the novel's debut in Great Britain in 1973. He wrote in the May 24 issue of the Financial Times, "Very few novels in English, or literary productions of any kind, have come anywhere near its level for human wisdom or as a work of art." He then asked, "Why isn't this novel famous?" His answer was that "we live in a peculiarly silly age" and that John Williams "doesn't fit the triviality of the day."
It's not a long book, and nothing is wasted. It is that rare thing in literature - a truly honest account of a single human life.