This one-of-a-kind documentary, which is funny and affecting and continually surprising, isn’t only about the vanished author and his disappearing book. (Moskowitz locates a handful of copies on the net, as well as a wonderful anecdote: someone remembers sitting next to a woman on a plane who carried a copy with her wherever she went, just in case she found other readers who adored it as much as she did.) And it isn’t primarily about the vagaries of publishing, though what we learn about the ease with which a gifted writer can slip through the cracks is enough to give an aspiring novelist nightmares; there was one sitting near me, who confided that after seeing the picture he wasn’t sure he could return home to his laptop. Stone Reader is a paean to the joys of reading – to the way the books we love come to reside within us, shape our friendships, in some significant way define who we are. “When I read Dickens,” Conroy says wistfully, “I can feel the old man over my shoulder,” and all of us for whom books are indispensable know just what he means. There’s a charming scene where Moskowitz and one of his childhood friends wander through the children’s section of the library they frequented as kids, recalling when they read certain books and exchanged them, and how those books led them to others. Moskowitz also talks about a bookstore he discovered in his adolescence, where he found Catch-22 and graduated to adult reading tastes. He’s the ideal reader, the one Mossman or any author must fantasize about. Books matter so much to him that when he drives out to spend a couple of days with Seelye, he stocks his car with novels and literary criticism that might just come up in conversation. And sitting opposite Brandt in his Manhattan office, he stacks up the books that have made his private list of the best first novels of the twentieth century – saving The Stones of Summer for last, to gauge Seelye’s response.
|Mark Moskowitz and John Seelye|
Note to readers: Mark Moskowitz's Stone Reader will be screened at Ryerson University in Toronto as part of their annual Silver Screens Arts Festival currently running until Sunday, June 3rd. Critics at Large's Kevin Courrier will be introducing the film and speaking to special guest Mark Moskowitz after the screening. Stone Reader still has tickets available and will be shown on Saturday, June 2nd at 6:30 pm. See the schedule on our home page (right sidebar) for location and ticket information.