Cover image for The stones of summer
The stones of summer
Mossman, Dow.
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Publication Information:
New York : Barnes & Noble, 2003.

Physical Description:
x, 586 pages ; 24 cm
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The great "lost" novel is available again-after more than 20 years--And now there's a movie tie-in! Originally published to glowing reviews in 1972, Dow Mossman's first and only novel is a sweeping coming-of-age tale that spans three decades in the life of irrepressible 1950s teen Dawes Williams. Earning its author comparisons to no less than James Joyce, J. D. Salinger, and Mark Twain, this great American novel developed a passionate cult following-even as it went out of print for more than 20 years. But Mark Moskowitz's recent award-winning film Stone Reader, a passionate and deeply personal tribute to the book and its author, revived interest in Mossman's magnificent achievement.

Author Notes

Dow Mossman received his B.A. from Coe College, in his hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and his M.F.A. from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Book-of-the-Month Club Fellowship

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

After its 1972 publication, this sprawling, modernist Great American Novel-style epic garnered its author critical comparison to Faulkner, for its saga of rural dynastic decline; Salinger, for its mood of youthful alienation; and Joyce, for its labyrinthine, cryptically allusive, stream-of-consciousness renditions of the private psyche. The episodic coming-of-age narrative follows budding writer Dawes Williams from boyhood on his grandfather's greyhound ranch, through a feckless Iowa adolescence of drinking and joyriding, to a mentally unstable adulthood in which, through rants against propriety, positivism and the establishment and a terminal bout of countercultural dissoluteness in Mexico, he becomes the voice of the 1960s' lost generation. The real action, though, is the development of Dawes's writerly sensibility, his-i.e., the author's-knack for transmuting the dross of reality into the gold of literary metaphor. But Mossman's own lyrical, metaphorical sensibility tends toward pseudo-profundities ("[h]er body was an inward fall, a deep spiral of musky sea lying easily within itself"), abstractions ("[s]he had a metaphysical eye, as blue as perfect nightmares"), and a synesthetic scrambling of sensory categories ("[h]e felt he could not listen to the light anymore, that it stood off in the distance, wordless with impossible opinion"). Long out of print before this reissue, the novel has generated a cult following among those who find in its inchoate but intense imagery the very portrait of the young artist's soul. But many readers may find the book's hallucinatory prose-"In the beginning there was me, green smoke and oatmeal, conscious light, all looking for a shoe to rise from"-interesting but self-indulgent, and the plot insufficiently gripping. (Oct. 22) Forecast: B&N CEO Steve Riggio secured the chain's right to reissue this epic for a healthy six figures in a deal that also helps finance distribution of the independent film about Mossman, Stone Reader. The Stones of Summer is an achievement, but at 600 dense pages, B&N may end up deciding it's better to stick to the classics. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Published to mostly critical acclaim in 1972 -LJ's reviewer hated it-this book, along with its author, disappeared anyway. The story, however, has found new life via the film The Stone Reader, so you might want a copy. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Book 1 A Stone of Day 1949-1950p. 1
Book 2 Stones of Night 1956-1961p. 163
Book 3 The Stones of Dust and Mexico 1967-1968p. 355