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]