September 7, 2017
Forget the allegations of sexual harassment and assault, Casey Affleck is going to star in “Stoner”
by Taylor Sperry
Yesterday, reporters on the Hollywood beat gleefully announced that Casey Affleck will star in the upcoming adaptation of John Williams’s masterful and devastating Stoner, a novel that sold modestly when it was first published in 1965 and saw an unlikely resurgence after it was reissued in 2003 (by Vintage) and 2006 (by NYRB Classics). In 2013, Tim Kreider called it “The Greatest American Novel You’ve Never Heard Of” on the New Yorker’s “Page-Turner” blog.
For producer Jason Blum, who optioned the book in 2011, Stoner’s relative obscurity is part of its appeal: “Because the novel is so beautiful but not well-known, fans of Stoner feel like they’re in a secret club,” he said. “I’m so excited that Casey, Joe [Wright], and Andrew [Bovell] have come aboard to help expand this club’s membership.”
But others might not be so thrilled to have Casey Affleck as part of this “club.”
It’s pretty shocking that none of the top reports on Affleck’s first post-Oscar project—Justin Kroll’s piece for Variety, Jordan Crucchiola’s for Vulture, or Anthony D’Alessandro’s for Deadline—so much as glance at the controversy that surrounded his win for Best Actor in “Manchester by the Sea” earlier this year. That award came just months after two separate sexual harassment suits against Affleck surfaced. The allegations in those suits were made by women who worked with Affleck on his 2010 mockumentary “I’m Still Here” …and they’re disturbing.
But perhaps more disturbing still is the reminder of just how easily powerful men—whether they’re in Hollywood or on their way to the White House—can shake off extremely public accusations of sexual harassment and assault. For more on how distressingly goldfish-brained we tend to be when it comes to the bad behavior of men generally (and Casey Affleck specifically), see Melville House’s own Sady Doyle on “What We Lose When We Give Awards to Men Like Casey Affleck.”
Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.