Sep 6, 2013

For the UALR English Department, this is J. Bradley Minnick with Facts About Fiction.

“At school he did his lessons as if they were chores only somewhat less exhausting than those around the farm.”

John Williams, writer of the novels Stoner and Augustus, for which he won The National Book Award, dressed meticulously. Daily, he adorned his 5’ 5” frame with a blazer and a cravat. Later in life, when he suffered emphysema, he supplemented his outfit with portable oxygen.

Here Are The Facts: Williams, a chain smoker, was diagnosed with emphysema; yet, according to his students, he would alternately take drags of oxygen and then a drag on a cigarette and continue teaching. Although smoking was not permitted in classrooms, Williams would balk at the rules, wave a cigarette in the air as he lectured and is quoted as saying, “ah life was an amateur performance.”

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