Mette is a socially awkward 20-year-old programmer of visual effects for video games. She flees her apartment and job after experiencing her first romantic rejection. Fearing the worst, her parents — long estranged from one another — must join forces in order to find her.
Mette lives in a Brooklyn apartment with her mother, an aspiring playwright named Saskia. (Discerning readers will remember her from an earlier novel by Mr. Hall, The Saskiad.) Her father, Mark, is an emotionally distant astronomy professor in Ithaca, N.Y. Mark’s long-ago fling with Saskia fizzled for reasons neither of them can explain; neither can they really name the forces that brought them together in the first place. But they both adore Mette, whose unplanned path will take her across America and then to a fateful visit with her charismatic, unscrupulous grandfather, Thomas, who formerly ran the commune north of Ithaca where Saskia was raised, and who now lives as a hermit in a windmill on a remote Danish island.
This is a novel to sink into. Playing out over nine decades and three generations, and stitching together a dazzling array of subjects — from cosmology and classical music to number theory and medieval mystery plays — The Stone Loves the World is a story of love, longing, and scientific wonder. It offers a moving reflection on the human search for truth, meaning, and connection in an often incomprehensible universe, and on the genuine surprises that the real world — and human society — can offer. Time and again, it asks a question both ordinary and profound: What are the sacrifices that love demands?
After graduating from Harvard in 1981, Brian Hall spent two years bicycling and camping in southeastern Europe, an adventure he recounts in his first book, Stealing from a Deep Place. Since then, he’s written seven more books, five of them novels. Hall has also worked as a freelance journalist, writing for Travel-Holiday, the New York Times Magazine, and the New Yorker. A resident of Ithaca, he has taught creative writing at Colgate.
“I wanted The Stone Loves the World to be about a relationship that had not worked out long ago, but that had a chance to work again,” says Brian Hall in his three-question Living Writers interview.
Tell Us What You Think
We're sorry you missed our Sept. 27 discussion with Brian Hall about The Stone Loves the World. You can listen to a recording of the first 20 minutes below.
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Go Beyond the Book
- “Hall takes a risk with sprawling, dense passages, and pulls it off by majestically drawing together the various threads of this consistently moving and entirely unconventional narrative,” writes Publishers Weekly.
- This brief review in the New Yorker says, “Hall shows how the life of the mind offers a refuge from psychological distress and, in so doing, shapes our personalities.”
- “The way [Mark and Mette] show interest in each other, which for them does mean caring, is by talking about subjects. And I grew up in a family where this was one of [our] traits,” Brian Hall tells Chris Holmes in his Burned By Books podcast.
How to become less young is obvious, if slow. But how to become less preoccupied—this is the mystery.The Stone Loves the World
Living Writers is organized by the Department of English at Colgate University with generous support from the Olive B. O’Connor Fund as well as the President and Provost/Dean of the Faculty. Support from the Upstate Institute helped make this event possible.