Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the Twentieth Century


Product Details

$29.99  $27.89
Atria Books
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.2 X 1.5 inches | 1.25 pounds

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About the Author

Dana Stevens has been Slate's film critic since 2006. She is also a cohost of the magazine's long-running culture podcast, Slate Culture Gabfest, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Bookforum. She lives with her family in New York City. Camera Man is her first book.


"In this innovative, exciting combo of biography, history, essay, and acute cultural analysis, Dana Stevens does something I would have thought impossible--she tells the story of Buster Keaton's life as if it were a Buster Keaton movie. This book is an exhilarating new way to view the man, his life, his art, and his genius." --MARK HARRIS, author of Mike Nichols: A Life, Five Came Back and Pictures at a Revolution
"This book is as dazzling as a silent movie flickering before you in a dark room. Stevens has managed the rare feat -- conjuring a life in all its specific detail while placing it in a modern context so that it becomes newly vital. Buster Keaton leaps off the page." --RACHEL SYME, staff writer, The New Yorker
"In her brightly written and incredibly well-researched book, Dana Stevens celebrates the enduring filmic presence of Buster Keaton--"The Great Stone Face"--even while transforming him into a guidepost and compass from which to survey the spectacular rise of American popular culture in the modern era. Camera Man offers a unique kaleidoscope of cultural history, film criticism, and fascinating stories and anecdotes, filtered through Stevens' distinctly modern sensibility and held together, in the end, by the slight but mesmerizing figure of Keaton himself." --JAMES SANDERS, author of Celluloid Skyline: New York and the Movies and co-writer of the award-winning PBS series New York: A Documentary Film
"The world has been waiting for a Buster Keaton chronicler like Dana Stevens, who unfolds the great man's archetypal American life with uncommon wit and grace. But Camera Man offers so much more than biography, revealing its subject as the embodiment, and the instigator, of a turbulent century's transformations. Vaudeville and Hollywood, disruptive technologies and shifting mores, the complications of race and class and gender, the collisions of art and commerce--Stevens packs it all into an electric, genre-busting book that tosses up new ideas, arguments, and aperçus on every page. It's a literary highwire act in the spirit of Buster's famous cinematic set-pieces: a stunt with soul." --JODY ROSEN, author of Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle
"Buster didn't talk, but luckily Dana Stevens is here to tell us how the Great Stone Face invented a new film language. This rollicking read vivifies the era of innovation and upheaval that shaped the artist who shaped cinema for the next century and counting." --AMY NICHOLSON, author of Tom Cruise: Anatomy of an Actor and the forthcoming Extra Girls
"I have written three books on Buster Keaton's work, and have barely scratched the surface of his deep and amazing talent. Stevens' book fills in a lot of gaps with a fan's passion and a scholar's insight. It is a fine contribution to the continuing scholarship on one of cinema's most brilliant comedians and filmmakers. " --JAMES L. NEIBAUR, author of Buster Keaton's Silent Shorts: 1920-1923, Arbuckle and Keaton, and The Fall of Buster Keaton
"A masterful mix of cultural history, biography, and film criticism....Combining the same ingredients that made Keaton's movies indelible--an elegant narrative, humor, and pathos--Stevens's account isn't one to miss." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)