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The Book of Stone

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  110 ratings  ·  45 reviews
A searing psychological thriller set in pre-9/11 Brooklyn in which a family’s dark history and an estranged son’s attempt to find meaning and purpose converge.

Matthew Stone has inherited a troubling legacy: a gangster grandfather and a distant father—who is also a disgraced judge. After his father’s death, Matthew is a young man alone. He turns to his father’s beloved book
Paperback, 389 pages
Published May 12th 2015 by Fig Tree Books
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Average rating 3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  110 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“The Jewish people and their fate are the living witness for the absence of redemption. This, one could say, is the meaning of the chosen people; the Jews are chosen to prove the absence of redemption.”
---- Leo Strauss, a German-American philosopher and philologist of ancient Greek text

Jonathan Papernick, a Canadian author, penned his debut novel called, The Book of Stone after so many successful short stories, that revolves around a man whose fate drastically changes after his father's deat
Rob Slaven
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received this book free for review from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Despite the privilege of receiving a free book, I'm absolutely candid about it below because I believe authors and readers will benefit most from honest reviews rather than vacuous 5-star reviews.

The nutshell view on this is that it's a complex character development novel that traces the evolution of a son after the death of his emotionally estranged father. The book describes itself as incendiary but I wou
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A single event, in our lives, can make us question everything, changing beliefs we thought were permanent and moving the future towards a drastically different direction. The main character in Jonathan Papernick’s The Book of Stone, Matthew Stone, deals with precisely such a life changing event, which makes him question everything. Walter Stone, Matthew’s father and a well-known judge, passes away and leaves his son haunted by his father’s unmet expectations. While Walter Stone was alive, Matthe ...more
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I just received this book because a giveaway. I couldn't put it down. I found this book to be such a compelling read. The plot was so complex and interesting. Loved this book!
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
My starred review appeared in the 4/15/15 edition of Library Journal:

Papernick's provocative debut novel (after two story collections) explores the motives of religious extremism and how it can attract those in search of identity. When Judge Walter Stone dies in his Brooklyn apartment, his listless son Matthew is forced to confront his checkered legacy—Walter left the bench in disgrace after "jurymandering" a trial in favor of an Israeli man who bashed a Palestinian-born shopkeeper to death; his
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Had the good fortune of being given a sneak peek of this brilliant and masterfully crafted literary thriller due out this spring from Fig Tree Books. Thanks to Papernick's commanding prose and deep knowledge of Jewish thought, I was immediately sucked into the clever and enthralling plot centered around Matthew Stone, whose complicated psychology lies firmly outside the DSM, and whose character is one I will never forget. Could not put this novel down. Lyrical and incendiary, indeed.
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thought this book really stimulated the mind about Jews Arabs and America and New York .it is a complicated story of father and son
Nicky Enriquez
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-read
Jonathan Papernick weaves an intriguing and timely tale of a broken man faced with the grief of the looming legacy of his father. Matthew Stone is pathetic, pitiful, and loathsome all at once (It takes great writing to evoke such emotion from one character). I was taken by the sensational labyrinth of Matthew's search for himself and the raw need to find his place in the world. An innovative "thriller" that is smartly written and an eye-opener to the cultural radicalism, of which I am completely ...more
Jul 29, 2015 rated it did not like it
I could barely read past the first page. Often, I place much weight on the first line of a novel and hope that it might hook the reader at first glance. However, Papernick's prose sounds as if he had the window open throughout his writing process and threw in pretentious word choice for the sake of adding legitimacy to a weak work. I doubt this constitutes as an "epic" literary work. I wish him luck with his future endeavors.
Erika Dreifus
I'm part of the team at Fig Tree Books that will be helping readers get to know this book next spring. Boy, is it a provocative read. You'll see, in due course. Meantime, fasten your seatbelts, because this novel will take you on *quite* a ride.
Denice Barker
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
In these troubling times of terrorist attacks on innocent people, The Book of Stone: A Novel is particularly timely and disturbing.
Matthew Stone could never do anything right by his father, a man who could never find a good thing to say to or about his son. Matthew has an interesting family line. His father was a Jewish judge who was forced from the bench after fixing a trial in favor a Jewish extremist, who, by the way, was guilty. Matthew’s father spent considerable time and money financing t
Joanne Garbato
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Book of Stone is a very well written psychological thriller.Matthew Stone is a vulnerable young man with a history of mental illness.His father,former disgraced judge Walter Stone who he had a strained relationship with,has passed away leaving Matthew alone with no family.Wanting to connect with his father and make him proud Matthew becomes immersed in his father's vast book collection,looking for guidance and meaning.Matthew is also befriended and taken advantage of by a group of people his ...more
Bill H.
Dec 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
You'd never know that Hemingway and the realists following him have created generations of readers suspicious of sentences overloaded with adjectives and adverbs. Perhaps pumping up the style fits a protagonist who mourns a father he really didn't know, binges on pills and alcohol, and makes increasingly bad decisions. His self-loathing rubs off on the reader. If that's not enough, Papernick feeds your worst cynicism about those who direct young Jewish idealists willing to resort to terror to st ...more
Joey Gremillion
I love stories where, when I finish reading, I think about the characters, no matter how secondary or background they maybe, at first read. One of the best compliments that you can give an author is to psychoanalyze his characters. The Book of Stone left me wanting to know more about Matthew, his father, and CERTAINLY his mother and his frenemy, Pinky. Papernick's book is very timely. Religious fanaticism and extremism are found in nearly all religions. The Book of Stone will be discussed in soc ...more
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It was unlike anything I had read before and gave me a better understanding into the mind of terrorists. I think I would have gotten more from the book if I had a better understanding of Jewish history, but I learned a lot.
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: deep
This was a really complex book. I enjoyed the story and got caught in the characters. I found myself rereading parts because I couldn't believe what was happening. I won this book on good reads.
nikkia neil
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
Complex and intriguing, made me think for a while after I read it about the themes in the book.
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Didn't expect the ending. Held my interest from start to finish.
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
So impressed at this clever, intense global story! Such a great read and perspective into another world within the secret walls of New York City.
May 11, 2019 marked it as decided-not-to-read
Recommended to Sue by: Sandee (in Jewish Week)
Shelves: jewish-themes
I happened to start three novels recently that all had as main protagonist a Jewish man (American) who was very out of touch with being Jewish. In the first, The Doorposts of Your Houses and on Your Gates, by Jacob Bacharach, the characters were so self-absorbed & ultimately uninteresting, that I didn't finish the book. The second, The Family Tabor, by Cherise Wolas, I found absorbing & moving, a really outstanding novel. In both of those books, the main protagonist was middle-aged, & he was sur ...more
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
I have a real problem writing this review. I had a real problem reading this book. First, let me say the positive aspects. It is well-written. Its portrayal
of its protagonist's inner life is powerful. It offers insight into forces that might drive one to religious extremism and even terrorism. Once one gets through the painfully slow first chapters, the plot becomes engaging. And it has a dramatic and unexpected ending.

But I hated this book. It was painful watching our protagonist making bad ch
Feb 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
I hated reading this book. I especially despised Matthew Stone. The portrayal of him as a vulnerable individual susceptible to influence was exceptionally effective in that my loathing for the character was complete well before his descent into radicalisation. Well written and indeed compelling . But I enjoyed this as much as the prospect of slamming my head into a brick wall.
Linda Munro
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Although this is a newer book, it is set in Brooklyn, NY, pre 9/11.

Matthew Stone is a troubled young man who lived with his father until his father’s recent death. He has chosen a path that has brought him to this point alone, his friends having long ago moved on; the woman he loved turned free in the Middle East, all because of his overbearing father. When he finds the apartment he shared with his father has been ransacked, he quickly gathers up his father’s beloved books and suddenly a friend
Seymour Jacob
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was the recipient of the pre-released, unedited version of The Book of Stone. Jonathan Papernick is an eccentric author, with fully realized style. However, while reading this book, I identified a multitude of problems. The most important thing to realize (Which I did not before reading this book) is that, in order to obtain the full effect of the story, it is important to have a menial understanding of Jewish culture. Both the history and politics of Jews are deeply intertwined with this book ...more
Jan 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Wavering between 2 and 3 stars, but I'm leaving it at 3 because the writing was actually very good. It's probably not even fair to only give it 3 stars -- the plot was not enjoyable, the main character was hard to follow, and I know the fact the book made me squirm is actually a really strong selling point. I just can't bring myself to rate it higher since I found absolutely NO pleasure in the read, and rather thought, "When will this be over?"

Let me reiterate: I think those feelings were all in
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
This was (one of my) bookclub reads, and if ever I wish I could be there for discussion, this might be it.
Matthew Stone seems to miss obvious significance -- an FBI agent named Zohar? a religious zealot named Brilliant? a romantic interest named Dasi (short for Hadassah) -- and live in paranoia. Or stupidity, I'm not sure which. In flaunting his father's name and wishes, he creates a life of drugs, alcohol, and few true friends. He is easily lured into a fantastical world, and too easily is swa
World Literature Today
"From the beginning, Jonathan Papernick thrusts the reader into the middle of a very disorganized life. Matthew Stone, suicidal, somewhat dependent on alcohol and drugs, is forced into sorting out the legacy of his late father, whom he truly did not know. The appeal of the novel lies in plot and theme: the mystery-intrigue elements, the depictions of Jewish worship, prayer, and family life, and the full-voiced rationales for the settlement movement and terrorist actions—the latter never quite qu ...more
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to really get sucked into the book but I'm glad that I didn't give up on it.

While slow at first The Book of Stone brings you into a world of espionage, revenge, and deceit. The story picks up as Matthew mourns the loss of his father and finds himself being pulled in different directions. Not sure of who to trust Matthew goes barreling through the story - obnoxiously at times - and makes sense of it all.

(view spoiler)
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Firstreads Winner.

This was such a roller-coaster ride for me. The writing was beautiful and meaningful, peppered with literary references and full of Jewish history and culture. At the same time the characters were so deeply flawed that no amount of opportunity, influence, self control, history, culture, or self respect could save them. I loved the journey it took me on. I kept hoping for redemption and salvation for this troubled boy but his self destructive personality prevented any long lasti
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Jonathan Papernick's first collection of short stories The Ascent of Eli Israel was published by Arcade Publishing in 2002 and received a full-page review in the New York Times and a starred review in Publishers Weekly.

His second collection of short stories There is No Other was published by Exile Editions in the spring of 2010. Author Dara Horn wrote about There is No Other, "Every single story

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