Stone Reader was screened initially at Sundance in January of 2002. The Special Limited Edition DVD I bought has a total of three disks; two of them are additional features that include footage and interviews from after the film’s release.
Mark Moskowitz, the film maker read a New York Times Book Review on a novel called The Stones of Summer, by Dow Mossman in 1972. He bought the book and never got to read it until over 20 years later. He thought the book was incredible and like so many of us do, tried to find other books by the same author. There was nothing. He then tried to find out something about the author and found nothing. He couldn’t believe that someone could have written such an incredible piece of literature and nothing more so he decided to find Dow Mossman. In the process, he sought to buy every copy of Stones of Summer that he could find and he tried to find other people – anybody – who had read this book.
Moskowitz takes us on a journey, beginning with the story of his own love of books, and the profound turning point that he found in his journey into adulthood when he discovered and read Catch 22.
He criss-crosses the country to interview the New York Times Book Reviewer who wrote the piece that led him to Mossman in the first place. He talks with former classmates at
The story is a profoundly sobering picture of a gifted writer, obsessed with creating a truly great book at a very young age and it illustrates the capriciousness of the publishing world and how a novel that all unanimously agreed was a fine 20th century work, could go out of print and the author fall into obscurity.
Mossman spent six years obsessively writing his book and shortly after it's publication, he spent time in an Iowa mental institution, suffering from what was then called a nervous breakdown.
I don't want to reveal too many more details about the story, but I will reveal that there is the book is now back in print.
The film is very well made and even without the incredible story of Mark Moskowitz’s search for Dow Mossman, provides incredible insights into the Iowa Workshop, the critics and the publishing industry. Moskowitz has also started a Lost Books Club to help preserve, introduce, and pass on to future generations, America's literary and cultural heritage, by making hard-to-find, unavailable, out-of-print, or otherwise forgotten works available to the public.
I recommend this to all writers and to all those who have a love affair with books. If you've seen it, I'd love to hear your thoughts and impressions.