ADDRESSES: Home—Brooklyn, NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Newmarket Press, 18 E. 48th St., New York, NY 10017.
Contributor to periodicals, including Talk, New York Observer, New York Times Style, I.D., and Esopus.
SIDELIGHTS: In Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat, Edward McPherson readdresses the life of silent film comedian Buster Keaton. A number of biographies have already been written about Keaton, but while many biographers have discussed the actor's troubled childhood in depth, McPherson is more interested in the genius of Keaton as a filmmaker. As Muriel Zagha commented in her Times Literary Supplement review, "McPherson distances himself from other biographers and film scholars who have variously interpreted Keaton's impassivity as the tragic mask of an abused child." Instead, the author asserts that the stony-faced expression Keaton assumed in his on-screen persona was worn purely for comedic effect. As a young stage performer, he had discovered that he got more laughs when he grossly understated his reaction to the pratfalls and other amusing stunts he performed. McPherson goes on to describe in detail Keaton's creative brilliance, his attention to factual detail, and the ups and downs of his career.
Library Journal writer Roy Liebman was disappointed that McPherson largely neglects Keaton's work in movies that had sound, adding that the author's attempts at "analyzing Keaton's genius" are "often trite and unconvincing." On the other hand, a Publishers Weekly reviewer asserted that McPherson "adroitly describe[s] the extraordinary visual lunacy Keaton produced on screen to achieve cinema art." As Zagha similarly wrote: "One particularly enjoyable part of McPherson's narrative is his vivid, often hilarious evocation of Keaton's early years" in what she concluded is an "informative new biography."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Library Journal, May 15, 2005, Roy Liebman, review of Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat, p. 119.
Publishers Weekly, April 11, 2005, review of Buster Keaton, p. 44.
Times Literary Supplement, October 28, 2004, Muriel Zagha, "Buster Keaton's Great Stone Face."