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Stone Reader

By: Lisa Schwarzbaum

Filmmaker Mark Moskowitz, who earns a living making political commercials, turns his considerable skills of media persuasion to the nobler service of selling serious books. And he makes the sale.

Specifically, the hard-driving and aggressively well-read Moskowitz conveys the power of The Stones of Summer, an unsung 1972 novel that affected him profoundly and has long been exiled in out-of-print oblivion. The search to find out what happened to its author, Dow Mossman -- who never published another books -- launches Moskowitz on a quixotic cross-country adventure, simultaneously self-regarding and indefatigable, talking to editors, agents, and other writers about the terrors and pleasures of reading and publishing.

It's "Moskowitz's March," really -- in the tradition of Ross McElwee's wholly original 1986 pseudo-documentary Sherman's March -- and it ends in stirring victory: When the humble, gently defeated-looking author is found and thanked, it's hard not to weep in honor of one small battle won for the written word. A-