24 April 2007

Dow Mossman. The Stones of Summer, 1972.

Dow Mossman. THE STONES OF SUMMER. Bobbs-Merrill, NY, 1972.

Current Selling Prices
$400-$850 /£200-£420

In 2002, Mossman was the subject of a documentary film by Mark Moskowitz, 'Stone Reader', which followed the director's attempt to resuscitate the acclaimed book and speak to its seemingly-vanished author. A sort of modern day 'Quest for Corvo', although Baron Corvo was somewhat stranger than Mossman. The film is available on DVD and is fascinating. Moskowitz and others recall the book when they first read it as a powerful novel that should have been much bigger than it was - almost another 'Catcher in the Rye.' The book was lauded when it came out in 1972 and promptly sunk like a stone. Wikipedia sayeth:-
"Dow Mossman was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa...studied at Coe College for two years, finished college at the University of Iowa and received his M.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1969. His novel, The Stones of Summer, was published by Bobbs-Merrill and Popular Library in 1972. Following the publication of The Stones of Summer, Dow was mentally exhausted and spent several months in an Iowa sanitorium. The novel soon went out of print... Stone Reader chronicled the director's attempt to resuscitate the acclaimed book and speak to its seemingly-vanished author. The film shows Mossman currently living in the family home, which is filled with books. According to the film, Mossman writes on the porch, and is currently working on a book based on notes he has taken from hundreds of old movies. Mossman lists the memoirs of Casanova as his favorite literary work. As a child, Dow read the Bible, and the complete novels of Arthur Conan Doyle...Mossman occasionally plays snooker at a local taproom and never misses a sale at the Cedar Rapids Library, which has provided him with reading treasures such as several years of bound Century Magazines from the 1890s, and an 1867 translation of Don Quixote which he feels captures Cervantes better than any other.
Mossman is an avid Chicago Cubs fan and rides a motorcycle.

Prior to Stone Reader, Dow had been employed for 19 years as welder. He subsequently quit to look after his aging mother, who later died, after which he returned to work as a paper bundler for the local newspaper. After the film's release, The Stones of Summer was re-published. He is now semi-retired."

A coming of age novel of youth and rebellion and 'the new consciousness' written in the late 1960s. Leslie Fiedler who was fascinated by one hit wonders said it was 'a book I clutched in my hand for months, reading it everywhere in college...' Others speculated it may have been too late for such a novel in 1972. Several litterateurs said that it wasnt actually as good as they remember it on re-reading it this century, a familiar experience. [ W/Q * ]

VALUE? The film has intriguing scenes of Mark Moskowitz getting on the net to find out about Mossman and finding very little except a small accumulation of copies of the book at modest prices ($20 or less) which he promptly bought. When the movie came out and was shown on TV all the copies disappeared and it started appearing at $1000. It has now settled back and is in a gentle but discernible decline. It is not at all scarce as a first in mediocre condition. However it is not that easy to find sharp copies for much less than $400 but it could show up in a flea market for a buck. The usual coterie of high end dealers want north of $800 for decent but not fine jacketed copies. There is a pretty decent one on ebay right now at $400 as a BIN and another with chips at $375. Signed copies of the 2003 Barnes and Noble reprint can be had for $40, always a few on ebay and sometimes as many as half a dozen 1972 firsts. A slightly unpleasant ex library copy at $849 (why are ex library books always the most expensive?) has the following modest puff, one for my collection of book barkers:-
Here for your delectation is the SPECTACULAR & RARE-------THE STONES OF SUMMER by Dow Mossman.THIS IS ONE OF THE RAREST BOOKS TO BE FOUND ON THE INTERNET!!!---or anywhere else! ... 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 -- the pages and binding are tight as a drum... bid soon and often for this magnificent, impossible-to-find LITERARY COLLECTIBLE.

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