Cover image for The invisible stranger : the Patten, Maine, photographs of Arturo Patten
The invisible stranger : the Patten, Maine, photographs of Arturo Patten
Banks, Russell, 1940-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, [1999]

Physical Description:
73 pages : portraits ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F29.P33 I55 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



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, and Affliction, 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.

Author Notes

The oldest of four children, Russell Banks spent his childhood and adolescence in New Hampshire and Eastern Massachusetts. His blue collar, working class background is strongly reflected in his writing.

The first in his family to attend college, Banks studied at Colgate University and later graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill. While he was establishing himself as a writer, Banks spent time as a plumber, shoe salesman, and a window dresser.

Banks's titles include Searching for Survivors, Family Life, Hamilton Stark, The New World, The Book of Jamaica, Trailerpark, The Relation of My Imprisonment, Continental Drift, Success Stories, Affliction, The Sweet Hereafter and Dreaming Up America. Banks has also written numerous poems, stories, and essays.

Banks is the recipient of several awards and prizes. Among his accolades are the St. Lawrence Award for Short Fiction, the John Dos Passos Award, and the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1986, Continental Drift was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

(Bowker Author Biography)