The Arts Bookstore of the Internet
created by Matt Zoller Seitz
“Outside of a Dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.” ~Groucho Marx
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In this genre-defying work of cultural history, the chief film critic of Slate places comedy legend and acclaimed filmmaker Buster Keaton’s unique creative genius in the context of his time.
Born the same year as the film industry in 1895, Buster Keaton began his career as the child star of a family slapstick act reputed to be the most violent in vaudeville. Beginning in his early twenties, he enjoyed a decade-long stretch as the director, star, stuntman, editor, and all-around mastermind of some of the greatest silent comedies ever made, including Sherlock Jr., The General, and The Cameraman.Even through his dark middle years as a severely depressed alcoholic finding work on the margins of show business, Keaton’s life had a way of reflecting the changes going on in the world around him. He found success in three different mediums at their creative peak: first vaudeville, then silent film, and finally the experimental early years of television. Over the course of his action-packed seventy years on earth, his life trajectory intersected with those of such influential figures as the escape artist Harry Houdini, the pioneering Black stage comedian Bert Williams, the television legend Lucille Ball, and literary innovators like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Samuel Beckett.In Camera Man, film critic Dana Stevens pulls the lens out from Keaton’s life and work to look at concurrent developments in entertainment, journalism, law, technology, the political and social status of women, and the popular understanding of addiction. With erudition and sparkling humor, Stevens hopscotches among disciplines to bring us up to the present day, when Keaton’s breathtaking (and sometimes life-threatening) stunts remain more popular than ever as they circulate on the internet in the form of viral gifs. Far more than a biography or a work of film history, Camera Man is a wide-ranging meditation on modernity that paints a complex portrait of a one-of-a-kind artist.
All copies are new.
MZS.Press is the online arts bookstore founded by author, critic, and filmmaker Matt Zoller Seitz. It offers a variety of new, used, signed, collectible, and rare books on film, television, music, photography, and the visual arts. The store was launched in 2019 under the direction of the founder's late wife, Cincinnati-based businesswoman and activist Nancy Dawson, and was originally hosted by Shopify until the platform became corrupt and started destroying independent merchants by freezing their accounts without explanation and making them jump through administrative and legal hoops before shutting them down and taking whatever was left of their money. This same fate was visited upon this store, prompting Seitz and his business partner Judith Carter to relocate here, the better to preserve a hospitable environment for the types of authors they like to champion: independent voices, often published by small presses whose extraordinary work tends to get swallowed up on giant platforms like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The store's inventory of nearly 1000 volumes is currently in the process of being reconstructed after its relocation. The titles featured here are personally selected by a group of curators and advisors, including Seitz, Carter, and an array of critics, artists, journalists, educators, publishers, and arts mavens who are known for their ability to suss out what the author's jazz musician father once called "the good sh*t."
The plot thickens, as they say. Why, by the way? Is it a soup metaphor?
Matt Zoller Seitz
Critic, Author, Filmmaker, MZS Press Creator
Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor at Large of RogerEbert.com. He is also the TV critic for New York Magazine and Vulture.com, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism. His writing on film and television has appeared in The New York Times, Salon.com, The New Republic and Sight and Sound. Seitz is the founder and original editor of the influential film blog The House Next Door, now a part of Slant Magazine, and the co-founder and original editor of Press Play, an IndieWire blog of film and TV criticism and video essays.
Seitz has written, narrated, edited or produced over a hundred hours’ worth of video essays about cinema history and style for The Museum of the Moving Image, Salon.com and Vulture, among other outlets. His five-part 2009 video essay Wes Anderson: The Substance of Style was spun off into the hardcover book The Wes Anderson Collection. This book and its follow-up, The Wes Anderson Collection: Grand Budapest Hotel were New York Times bestsellers.
Other Seitz books include The Sopranos Sessions, Mad Men Carousel, and the newly published by MZS Press, The Deadwood Bible: A Lie Agreed Upon. He also wrote the New York Time Best Sellers Mad Men Carousel: The Complete Critical Companion, and TV (The Book). He is currently working on a science fiction puppet movie, a memoir about his two marriages, and an epic non-fiction television series covering 50 years in the life of his extended family.
His hobbies include exotic dancing, moonwalking, and affixing masking tape labels to every food item in the refrigerator, including eggs.
He has the attention span of a gnat.