Joe Wright & Casey Affleck to adapt beautifully depressing John Williams novel Stoner


John Williams’ Stoner is one of my favorite books. First published in 1965, it had faded into obscurity for decades–a trajectory similar to other great American novels like Moby-Dick or The Great Gatsby. This melancholy book centers on William Stoner, a literature professor whose life is full of inescapable disappointment with fleeting respites. The clean prose and observations about a seemingly forgettable life helped the book develop a cult following over time. Stoner was republished by the NYRB in 2006, and has been rediscovered and embraced by countless writers and readers since.

Stoner is getting a big screen adaptation from director Joe Wright (Atonement, Anna Karenina) and playwright/screenwriter Andrew Bovell. Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) will play the title role. The unlikely adaptation brings together an unlikely trio of backers: indiemeisters Cohen Media Group, the UK’s Film4, and horrormeisters Blumhouse.

Not gonna lie: I’m a little worried about the film. I don’t think Wright is an ideal director for Stoner, and not because he’s British. Wright’s movies tend to be large, lush, colorful, expensive-looking productions, while Stoner is such a small, poor, and interior story by comparison. I think Casey Affleck might be wrong as well. He’s not the person I picture in my head while reading the book. This all seems not shabby or modest enough to be Stoner.

If I had my druthers, I’d pick Manchester by the Sea writer/director Kenneth Lonergan to helm the production, with Mark Ruffalo as William Stoner. They’ve worked together in the past, and I think that pairing is better suited to the heartaching world of the novel.

No word on when production will start at the moment. But yeah, go read Stoner, guys.

[via The Playlist]

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.