Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stone Reader Movie (Day 1)

Well, the first thing I have discovered is that blogging on movies you have never seen before is more difficult than blogging on a story or book because there isn't anything for you to refer back to. I did take notes in class, but those can only get me so far because I was still paying attention to the movie when I wrote them and most are pretty vague. But here it goes.

The narrator, Mark Moskowitz, is making a film about the search for the author of a book called 'The Stones of Summer' that he read when he was younger. The author's name is Dow Mossman. Apparently Mossman wrote the book, then pretty much disappeared off of the face of the earth. He stopped writing altogether, and nobody knows what happened to him.

Moskowitz himself reads all the time. His mother said he was never very sociable. She said some people talked, Moskowitz just read. At one point she is describing him as a teenager and said he would never wear jackets, only the jacket linings. I thought that was kind of strange. Anyway, Moskowitz is looking for this author, Mossman, with the ultimate goal of meeting him. He keeps reaching out to all these people that might give him leads: old friends, book reviewers, the publishing company, Mossman's old agent, people online, anyone who might give him something that will eventually help him find Mossman. Meanwhile he is convincing his friends to read the novel in an attempt to revamp interest in it. He eventually arranges a meeting in Maine with a man named John Seelye (I looked him up, which is why I knew how to spell his name), who is the writer of the original and only book review for 'The Stones of Summer' for the New York Times years ago. Seelye thought the book was great and gave it a great review, but apparently it didn't peak much interest in it. Moskowitz stays in Maine with Seelye for a while just to talk about Mossman and some of his other favorite books. He says he felt like he had a connection with Seelye through the books, and he felt like he had known him for his whole life. However, when it came to Mossman, Moskowitz concluded that Seelye didn't know any more about the subject than he did. So it was a pleasurable meeting, but unfortunately yielded another dead end.

During the visit Seelye is talking about how he did his dissertation on Moby Dick, but never once read it straight through. He said, "Because it's a great book, doesn't mean you have to like it." I liked this quote, because I think it describes my attitude towards pretty much all required reading for my English classes through the years. I can understand the appeal of a lot of the books. And indeed most seem to be full of deeper, more subtle meanings and may be regarded as literary masterpieces, but I don't usually like them. I've probably only liked about 20% of the books I have been required to read over the years. And most of those I would not want to read again. I suppose the inverse is also true though. Just because you like something, doesn't make it great. Maybe that's why 'The Stones of Summer' hasn't received much attention through the years. I have nothing against the book. I have never even heard of it. But perhaps Moskowitz and Seelye are two peas in a pod like Moskowitz suggested; two kin spirits who love the book maybe because they can relate to it somehow or because it has meaning for them. But maybe its not that great. Maybe that's why nobody knew about the book. Maybe thats why Mossman stopped writing...because it was bad. I don't know, I guess we'll find out.

Anyway, along the way Moskowitz finds out that one book writers are actually very common in the literary world, and Mossman didn't invent the trend or anything. Thats probably another reason why nobody really noticed Mossman's disappearance. It is a fairly common thing, no big deal when a writer disappears. Towards the end of the part we watched, Moskowitz talks to the publisher of (I think) newer printings of the book. I don't think it was the original publisher. Unfortunately, again, that doesn't provide any real breakthroughs. So he did what he always seemed to do with lack of information: he talked to that person about other books that he liked. Moskowitz apparently really liked 'Catch 22' when he was younger, and cared as much about the author's voice as the story itself. It's funny, I had never heard that saying before (Catch 22) until about 2 months ago and now I have heard it about 10 times since then. Maybe I was just never paying attention to it before.

So basically, his search for the missing Mossman has come up relatively empty so far. I doubt it will stay that way though, or else this movie probably wouldn't have come full circle. I'm looking forward to finding out.

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