Mark Moscowitz's film debut Stone Reader follows the director as he searches for Dow Mossman, the one-book author of Stones of Summer, a would-be seminal novel from 1972 that has since gone out of print. Through his journey, Moscowitz shares his passion for the book -- and reading, in general -- with both close friends and literary critics. The Penn alum sat down with Street to talk about his film and passion for reading. The film is centered on an obscure, out-of-print text. How much did you want to confront the idea of a standard, set literary canon? Leslie Fiedler was the first person I went to go see [in the film] because Fiedler was the guy who, in my day, and even before me, was the guy who said, "There is no canon." It's just as worthwhile reading Robert Heinlein as it is Homer as it is Saul Bellow... There's no hierarchy of this stuff. It's how does your imagination work, what appeals to it. This whole idea that somehow Jane Austen is better than Agatha Christie is subjective, and, yes, you can argue and have debate about it, but it's the debate that's fun and stimulating. This is not written on the wall. The film is very personal, about your own search as a filmmaker. Were you looking for a different approach to the documentary format? All the other documentaries are just straight interviews and clips, Ken Burns-like stuff. Nobody is telling this kind of story. So now, people are out there and they're thinking that maybe this is something. I did want to stretch the medium a bit. I did want to show people that you can tell a non-fiction story in a way that's not just interviews and old clips. You can actually tell the story in a personal way. This film is about a disappearing culture in a lot of ways. How important was it to find this lost author Dow Mossman? Well, I didn't ever know I'd find him, so I was prepared to make a film not finding him in which case the poignancy would've happened in a different manner... It's both poignant to see the time passing and it's also inspiring because you realize he's a brilliant guy with great observations and he's still here and he's still standing. He's taken some shots and he's still standing, you know. It's sort of inspiring. How does a film about a book stay relevant for audiences today, who have difficulty finding the time to read? The real thing is that the film and the book, and television, to some extent, is all about story. The Internet is about information. And so what you have is a whole generation of people and maybe five hundred years of story culture -- five thousand years of story culture from the Bible -- is going to go away for better or for worse. Maybe it's for better. And information is going to come in. In other words, right now you go to Google and you go search and find -- people just want the information. They want the facts. It's not embedded into a story. The Internet doesn't embed in a story -- there's no story in it. It's all about information. What I wanted was a film that went back to story and carried the information along with it in the story. I don't know if people will continue to have the patience or whether their imaginations will change as they grow up and story becomes less important and information more and more... We will change as a culture. How much is this lost book representative of other forgotten texts? There's a lot of books like this. I started a thing called the Lost Books Club and foundation... It's a non-profit I started. It was Leslie Fiedler's idea. He kept saying to me, you know, that this isn't the only lost book out there. There's this book and that book... Other people who see the film -- I get people all the time who are saying, "Hey, I had a book like that once. It's called so-and-so. I lent it out. I never saw it again. It was one of the best books I ever read." I've kept a list, and we're going to try and get funding for it... and hopefully, we'll be able to bring more of these to attention. I think it's worth doing.


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