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My Wonderful World Of Slapstick (A Da Capo paperback) Paperback – August 22, 1982

4.4 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Keaton's autobiography, My Wonderful World of Slapstick, is our only record of the quirky mind behind the stoic face. Filled with stories about his childhood in vaudeville where, billed as 'The Human Mop, ' he was slammed on the floor, hurled into wings, banged on the bass drum-by his father!

About the Author

Charles Samuels, a New York newspaperman, wrote biographies of Jody Garland, Lizzie Borden, and Evelyn Nesbit. He worked with Buster Keaton on My Wonderful World of Slapstick (also available from Da Capo Press). Donald Bogle is the author of Brown Sugar: Eighty Years of America's Black Female Superstars (also available from De Capo Press), Blacks in American Film & Television: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, and Toms, Coon, Mulattoes, Mammies & Bucks: An Interpretive Histroy of Blacks in American Films. He has been called "the dean of black film history."
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Product Details

  • Series: A Da Capo paperback
  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; NONE, Paperback reprint edition (August 22, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306801787
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306801785
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,045,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Despite the review voted most helpful until now (which gives this book only 3 stars), I decided to see by myself. To my surprise I found a book very different from the one portrayed by Shawn T. Marengo.

First of all, the book is not called Autobiography or My Life, but My Wonderful World of Slapstick. Oddly enough, that is its subject. So, if you are expecting to uncover deep and dark secrets, you got the wrong book. Buy a biography instead.

But you got the wrong person too. Mediocre people think that artists are guys who are lucky enough to have a sudden inspiration right at the moment when they have a pencil in their hands and a white sheet of paper in front of them, or some millions in a friend's bank account to make a movie. These people can't understand that the way Keaton made his pictures was the only way possible for him; badly put: the way he saw life. In this book we get exactly what we are promised: a world full of anecdotes, accidents, shows and practical jokes.

On page NUMBER 3 he warns those readers who like sniffing the rotten meat under the carpet: "I've had few dull moments and not too many sad and defeated ones. In saying this I am by no means overlooking the rough and rocky years I've lived through. But I was not brought up thinking life would be easy. I always expected to work hard for my money and to get nothing I did not earn. And the bad years, it seems to me, were so few that only a dyed-in-the-wool grouch who enjoys feeling sorry for himself would complain."

If after reading this your first thought is: he's lying, then probably you are the kind of person who delights in other people's misfortunes but, most important, one who sees misfortunes where they're not.
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Format: Paperback
Reading the words of Buster Keaton gives great insight into how he was able to create his unique form of comedy.
His first hand telling of his fascinating life story may be a bit romanticized and a bit simplified, but then so were his films.
I came away with a clearer picture of what the world of silent film making was like, and how even a genius like Keaton could be dragged down by things beyond his grasp, including his own insecurities.
Keaton reveals himself to be a rather humble man. He makes clear that he never saw his work as anything more than the job of making people laugh. But he was a skilled acrobat and a great mime.
What is really missing from this book can only be found in the films themselves.
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Format: Paperback
I could praise this man every day for the rest of my life and it still wouldn't be enough of a tribute.

Buster Keaton was comedy's Renaissance man: a comic actor equally adept at writing, directing, and doing his own unforgettable stunts.

A man who literally threw himself into his work, Keaton was an instinctive artist who, thanks to his years onstage in vaudeville with his parents, brought to his movies a sense of timing and gag structure that was uniquely his.

It's criminal that silent comedy isn't seen more these days. Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean briefly revived it, but these days Atkinson is virtually retired, leaving the silent genre all but forgotten once again.

Maybe it's an unconscious sort of comedy prejudice people have; the idea being that anything as old as a Buster Keaton movie (Who? Buster Who?) must be hopelessly corny, stupid, and irrelevant.

Not at all. Buster Keaton's short films are as inventive and startling as the cleverest, "cutting-edge" TV sitcoms of today, and his feature films almost always beautifully photographed. He still takes my breath away. Start just about anywhere with the Keaton catalogue and I guarantee you'll find yourself thinking, "I have to see more of this guy!" and "HOW did he do THAT?
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Format: Paperback
Many people rave about Buster Keaton's work in the silent era and very few are fans of his work during the talkies. For those people, this book is an excellent read because the bulk of the material is about the gags in his silent films, various pranks played on other people of the profession, and his start on the stage. Unfortunately, this book does not delve into all of Buster's life and sometimes only gives a short overview of specific events, some good and some bad. Fans of The General will be disappointed that the only information given about the film is that it was one of Buster's personal favorites. Thankfully, though, some films get extra special attention like The Navigator, Seven Chances, Steamboat Bill Jr., and The Cameraman.

The book has an added feature. Keaton writes very well (although some credit should be given to co-write Andy Samuels). None of the dialogue is too highbrow to read, but it is intelligent stuff. Our author has certainly given his life some thought.

He could have spent more time talking about his later life, but Keaton takes the route of Mickey Rooney and simply explains that the reason he made so many bad films later in life was because of his desperate need for money. Thankfully, he is optimistic, and leaves the reader uplifted instead of brought down. This book is highly recommended.
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