The Stones of Summer
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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 -- and recently inspired Mark Moskowitz's award-winning film Stone Reader.
Dawes Williams is not just an ordinary boy growing up in the culture-void Iowa corn country. He is a little bit of a poet, a little bit of a genius -- and a little bit mad. At six he already understands more about life than the tough grandfather whom he idolizes. At eighteen he has been irrevocably labeled as the town eccentric, although he manages to stave off his bizarre inclinations and to make it, more or less, as one of the guys. But at twenty-one his threatening dark impulses start to surge to the surface and his battle for sanity and survival begins in earnest.
Dow Mossman is one of those rare writers whose prose reads like poetry and whose images electrify even the most jaded reader. His novel achieves the blending of several genres; it is at the same time romantic, lyric, and regional in the finest sense of the words. Although the entire novel spans three decades, it is essentially centered on the experience of growing up on the midwestern prairies in the fifties, and it captures with breathtaking artistry a feeling for the land, for the people, and for the myth of that era.
Mossman's gifts as a writer are extraordinary, and those who can endure the beauty and the pain of The Stones of Summer will be stunned, for it reveals the very soul of an artist.
for myself, you know.” “Yes. So, if you don’t have the town, you have at least the children— which you’d have had anyway, of course, town or no town, so that’s all right—which are named after the town. And that’s nice, I guess. So in the end, like old posters in a yellow antique book, you have something that turns out to be finer, better in every way than the town was. You have a comfortable myth.” “Oh-ya,” Dawes Williams said. “It never happened.” “Why’s that?” Leone said. “Why!?!” Simson said.
that follows when you have finished the last chapter, paragraph and word of a book which you greatly admire, and set it aside so as to hear your own inner echoes, the dying chord of sympathetic response.” Let me interrupt my own silence by adding that I hope that nothing I once said by way of sympathetic response dissuades you from reading Dow Mossman’s book for the first time, an experience that I myself can never have again, an unrecoverable moment like the one Jay Gatsby sought in vain to
Corporal Williams, I am taking the liberty of informing you that this world’s composed of the following composition: peasants; peasants following themselves; peasants following other peasants; and peasants without leaders but looking for some. And don’t you ever make the mistake of becoming one of’em, of joining. They deserve themselves. Don’t you even come close. Dismissed, Blessèd Anarchist Williams!” Then she had released him, laughing suddenly, high as kites, the air still, breaking out all
The chair was tied off backwards with ropes to her shoulders and hanging down. She seemed a circus departing in hats. Then suddenly, letting the chair slip loose with a sound shattering the surface of the night, she broke from the plankings and began chasing a chicken through the squawking woods. The night burst open, higher than airplanes. Caught through his railings, he could see her form rise and drop back, running, chasing the noise into holes of light in the woods, coming out again, her
‘could’ about it,” Travis said. “Kiss my ass, Travis,” Dawes Williams said. “Kiss my ass, Dawes,” Travis Thomas said. “Let’s have another goddamn beer,” Eddie said. “Oh help,” Dunker said, walking away, “I need a drink.” Soon they were sitting around the small fire, drying out, watching the black water wash over the stone, and Travis was saying: “Hell, guys should fight their enemies, not their buddies. Besides, I didn’t want to bust you up, Dunker. You’re my friend.” “I’d have broken you like a