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Reader's Quest

Some time ago, I can't remember exactly how long, I read a wonderful review of a film about some guy who read this book once and wasn't able to find it again and then went on a quest to find others who had read and remembered it and find out what happened to its author, who never wrote another book. Oddly echoing the events in the movie, I have, until now, been unable to remember the title of the movie, or find anyone who knew anything about it.

I was browsing my local video store, looking for a "weekly rental" to make up my 2-for-1 Monday rental, and lo and behold, there it was. The film is "Stone Reader," and it's just as wonderful as that review led me to believe. It's a quest, a detective story, a testament to persistence and mild obsession (well... maybe not so mild), but ultimately it's a meditation on writing and reading. It has so much to offer about the miraculous and mysterious process of becoming immersed in a book that I would recommend it to anyone who loves books and reading.

Mark Moskowitz is a filmmaker - a political ad maker in "real" life - who remembered reading, at the age of 18, a book called The Stones of Summer by Dow Mossman. He had read a glowing review of it in the New York Times. He bounced off it, but tried again a few years later, when he thought it brilliant and life-changing. When he looked for other works by the same author, he discovered that the book itself was out of print, the author had never written anything else, and noone seemed to have heard of him or the book. So he sets out to find out more, in the process visiting many other authors, teachers, and literary agents and has many conversations about writing, reading and the art of the novel. To say more would spoil what is a strangely suspenseful story. The process of detection and the complex road Moskowitz follows on his search add up to a fascinating and ultimately quite moving film.

Only one thing: if you were to judge the American literary scene from the last half century or more on the basis of what you see and hear about in this movie, you would think it populated with almost no exception by men. All the literary people interviewed are men; only two - no three - women writers are mentioned: Harper Lee, Margaret Mitchell and Emily Bronte. This is not really a criticism, just an observation, but - just saying.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 3rd, 2007 06:16 am (UTC)
Barnes & Noble.com - Dow Mossman - Books: Meet the Writers
Dow Mossman published his first novel, a coming-of-age tale called The Stones of Summer, in 1972 and was never heard from again. Until now.
www.barnesandnoble.com/writers/writerdetails.asp?cid=960883 - 40k - Cached - Similar pages - Filter - History

The Lost Books Club
Dow Mossman was raised in Iowa. He completed The Stones of Summer, his debut novel, in his mid-twenties and subsequently disappeared from the publishing ...
www.lostbooksclub.org/sos_main.php - 8k - Cached - Similar pages - Filter - History
Sep. 3rd, 2007 02:44 pm (UTC)
Yes - it's great that the book has actually been reprinted on the basis of this movie, and now when you Google Mossman you can find something!
Sep. 3rd, 2007 06:20 am (UTC)
Cool! I'm so glad you saw and liked this film. I saw it when it first came out on DVD more than a year ago, and I loved it too, but whenever I mentioned it to people, they gave me a kind of blank stare. Wrong people, perhaps. A film about reading--a rare thing. A good film about reading--a rare thing.
Sep. 3rd, 2007 02:50 pm (UTC)
I should have known YOU would have not only heard of it but seen it :) Obviously, I never thought to ask you about it when I was trying to remember what it was called. Perhaps it's only recently that I'm learning to appreciate and be humbled by your phenomenal movie knowledge!

Did you notice that Maleness thing that I commented on, though?
Sep. 3rd, 2007 09:01 pm (UTC)
Not just maleness, but a particular sort of maleness, a certain american identity that excludes quite a lot. Not sure how much I noticed it at the time, but I do remember thinking that this was a story about that particular trend in american literature of the disaffected yet relatively enfranchised man.
Sep. 3rd, 2007 06:44 am (UTC)
That sounds wonderful, and probably I'd never have heard of it over here, as it doesn't seem to have been released this side of the Pond. Now to track down a copy somewhere...
Sep. 3rd, 2007 02:48 pm (UTC)
According to the imdb, you can purchase it on dvd from Amazon UK. Whether you'll be able to find a copy to rent is another question, of course!
Sep. 5th, 2007 07:03 am (UTC)
Oh thanks - I checked sendit.com and gave up when they didn't have it. I think rental is unlikely but it sounds like the kind of thing my mother would love too, so buying is okay.
Nov. 4th, 2007 11:10 pm (UTC)
This is very late, I know, but I have a tendancy, when I discover a journal that is well-written and interesting, to go back and read old entries (especially when I'm procrastinating.)

Anyway, have you read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz-Zafon? It's a gorgeous book, with similar themes to the movie you described, and I suspect that you'd like it a lot. I stumbled across it by accident, and it took my breath away.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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