Stoner Documentary

There is an extra credit opportunity coming up at the Kenworthy Theater in Moscow. See details below, but please note that it’s not a documentary about pot smokers. It’s playing in Idaho, after all, not Washington. That said, The Act of Becoming promises to be an interesting 60-minute documentary about a 1965 novel called Stoner. It tries to explain how and why Stoner has become an international bestseller after a very limited initial publication. Full description below the poster.


Vernon Lott and Jennifer Anderson’s documentary THE ACT OF BECOMING chronicles the history of John Williams’s 1965 American novel Stoner and its arduous rise to success as an international bestseller. Upon its initial publication, the novel sold fewer than 2,000 copies. Just one year later, it was out of print. Accordingly, except for a select group of readers—college students and fans of literature who passed it around at social gatherings—the novel was all but forgotten.

Remarkably, fifty years later, Stoner has gone on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide. THE ACT OF BECOMING seeks to uncover the reasons behind its newfound success as it explores how the novel has moved so many people (their story is Stoner’s story is Williams’s story). And like the novel itself, the film breaks down the academic walls between “literature” and human experience and contemplates profound questions—What in life matters? What is greatness? How is it that we can be changed by art and its improbable perfection?


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