Jordan Aech's Reviews > The Stones of Summer

The Stones of Summer by Dow Mossman
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Apr 24, 11

Stones Of Summer is a strange, muddy novel that has a very debatable importance. The only reason that this book is known by a wide audience (wide being absolutely anyone who reads) is from a film titled Stone Reader. In the film Mark Moskowitz goes on a quest of sorts to find more about a beloved book (Stones Of Summer) that he read when he was much younger. The strange thing about the book is that it received an enthusiastically positive review in the New York Times after it was published and then promptly fell out of collective consciousness. Moskowitz read the review and decided that had to read this wonderful book. He loved it but apparently he was the only one. Now older, anyone that he attempts to discuss "Stones Of Summer" with has no idea of the book that he is talking about. But not anymore.

The movie is actually very charming and would be found interesting by anyone who enjoys literature in the least. It brings out a love that you might have of a particular book and also asks questions of what other literary gems have been lost to time and apathy? I watched the film and my reaction was similar to when Moskowitz read that New York Times Book Review so many years ago, I have to get my hands on this book! But when I did my excitement did not last.

The book is in three parts and to simplify it, the first part is very good and interesting, the second being less so and the third just completely devolves into a near unreadable mess. The story begins with a boy, Dawes Williams, and his trip with his mother and step-father on a trip to see his grandfather. There is a large focus on his relationship with his step-father and how Dawes views the world around him. The second act chronicles his late teenage years where Dawes and his friends engage in drinking, sex and violence. It has a very On The Road feel where the protagonists sole existence is to go from one party to the next. The third part has a more elusive plot due to the very cryptic and scattered way it was written. Dawes now lives in Mexico and suffers from schizophrenia. Much of this section is filled with his writings and they are extraordinarily difficult to get through. Beat-like and vague, the words meander page after page. The ideas are unclear and everything seems covered in this literary muck. To be honest I began skipping a lot of it because of how pointless it seemed; my patience had run out and I just wanted to be done with the book.

In all fairness Stones Of Summer does show brief glimpses of excellence but they occur mostly at the beginning. If there was more of those in the second part it might have persuaded me to try to decode everything in the third and have a more enjoyable experience with the book. It just reminded me too much of On The Road, a book I had a lot of trouble with.

Though, I still believe that this is still an important artifact. I wrestled with myself whether I should give it one star or two; which seems really harsh, I know. The whole story behind the story is what interests me more. Boy reads book, boy loves book, boy shares forgotten book with the world. Moskowitz, I believe single-handedly brought this work back into literary consciousness in a way that no one could or, to be honest, would. What of our cherished book that only we appreciate it seems? What if we could share that with everyone in hopes that they would see what we see? But then on the other hand, maybe things are forgotten for a reason.

I'm glad that Mossman wrote this book. Yes, you read that correctly. I'm glad that he wrote it because he wanted to write it. It was the only novel that he wrote and it was the only novel that he needed to write. It is here because he willed it into existence and at the very least, that is an inspiration to me.
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