Tag Archives: Buster Keaton

Summers with Buster Keaton

7 Oct

When I first saw Bluffton by Matt Phelan, I thought it was going to be about a kid and an elephant.


Imagine my surprise, not to mention my delight,  when I realized it was about Buster Keaton.


Not the Buster Keaton of the silent movies, but the boy who would become the silent film star.

It’s the summer of 1908 in Muskegon, Michigan and Henry is bored. When a troupe of vaudeville performers arrive to vacation for the summer in Bluffton, a nearby neighborhood, Henry spends every free moment getting to know the animals and hanging out with the boys, one of whom is Buster Keaton. Keaton is already famous for his ability to take a fall better than anyone alive. The boys spend several summers together playing baseball and vying over the same girl. Along the way we learn about Buster’s life on stage and his transition to films.

My uncle ,Henry Smith, was a watercolorist and we had several of his painting in our house growing up. The watercolors of Phelan’s book seem perfect for this story, which I highly recommend.

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