The ‘talk’ was indirect and allusive and slow, interrupted by long silences. Horace Bostwick talked about himself in brief speeches directed several inches over Stoner’s head. Stoner learned that Bostwick was a Bostonian, whose father late in his life, had ruined his banking career and his son’s future in New England by a series of unwise investments that had closed the bank. (‘Betrayed’, Bostwick announced to the ceiling, ‘by false friends’. Thus the son had come to Missouri shortly after the Civil War, intending to move west; but he had never got further than Kansas city, where he occasionally went on business trips. Remembering his father’s failure, or betrayal, he stayed with his first job in a small St Louis bank; and in his late thirties, secure in a minor vice-presidency, he married a local girl of good family. From the marriage had come only one child; he had wanted a son and had got a girl, and that was another disappointment he hardly bothered to conceal. Like many men who consider their success incomplete, he was extraordinarily vain and consumed with a sense of his own importance. Every ten or fifteen minutes he removed a large gold watch from his vest pocket, looked at it, and nodded to himself.
John Williams, Stoner, Vintage Books, pp 58-59 (review here)