Synopses & Reviews
In this unique collaboration Arturo Patten, one of the most important portrait photographers of our time, and acclaimed writer Russell Banks visit the hardscrabble north country of Patten, Maine, to study its inhabitants. Patten's haunting portraits of the town's residents evoke characters who exist in Russell Banks's fiction. Banks, the author of Cloudsplitter, The Sweet Hereafter,
observes Patten's "characters" from his remote cabin in the Adirondack hills of upstate New York, where he surrounds himself with the thirty-seven portraits and contemplates what they tell us about Patten, Maine, about portraiture, and ultimately about ourselves.
The Invisible Stranger, therefore, becomes nothing less than a meditation on what it means to be human. By becoming the "invisible stranger" and obscuring himself behind the camera's lens, Patten allows his subjects to emerge and then presents them to the viewer, who, seeing these individuals, also sees himself. Banks, too, acts as the "invisible stranger," studying the townspeople from hundreds of miles away and reflecting on the complex relationships between photographer and subject, subject and observer. Taken together, Patten's portraits and Banks's commentary offer a dramatic and provocative combination of word and image.
About the Author
Russell Banks is a past president of the International Parliament of Writers and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous awards, including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. He lives in upstate New York and Miami, Florida.
Russell Banks is the author of thirteen works of fiction. He has received numerous prizes and awards for his work, including the O. Henry and Best American Short Story Awards, the John Dos Passos Prize, and the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in upstate New York.
Arturo Patten was born in 1939 and grew up in Mexico, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. From the age of thirty he lived in Italy and France. His portraits have been published and exhibited throughout Europe and the United States. The Invisible Stranger is his fourth book of photographs. He died in March 1999.