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Paint It Black: A Novel Paperback – October 3, 2007
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Following the huge success of White Oleander, where Janet Fitch portrayed the coming-of-age of Astrid, a young girl placed in foster care after her mother murders a former lover and goes to prison for life, she has once again created an indelible portrait of a young woman in Paint it Black. Josie Tyrell is a teenage runaway, an artist's model, and an habitué of the '80s LA punk rock scene. She is a white trash escapee from Bakersfield, having left a going nowhere life there. Now, sex, drugs and rock n' roll inform her days and nights. Paint it Black is the perfect title choice because Josie's lover is never coming back, as the song says.
Josie meets Michael Faraday, son of concert pianist Meredith Loewy and writer Calvin Faraday, long divorced. He is everything that she is not: refined, wealthy, well-traveled, brilliant by fits and starts. He is also a Harvard dropout, leaving school so he can paint; his new obsession. He refuses help from his mother, who is furious about his decision to leave school, but it doesn't bother him to have Josie working three jobs to support them. He is given to black moods, frozen in amber by his perfectionism, contemptuous of those who do not agree with him about art and life. Josie adores him. One day much like any other, he leaves their house, saying that he is going to his mother's so that he can paint in solitude. Instead, he goes to a motel in 29 Palms and shoots himself in the head.
What follows is days of watching Josie in a near fugue state from grief, drugs, booze, and going over and over her love for Michael, trying to grasp how he could do what he did. After all, didn't they share the "true world," Michael's characterization of their cocoon of love and exclusivity?
Meredith calls her and says, "Why are you alive? What is the excuse for Josie Tyrell? I ask you." Ultimately, they form a tenuous relationship, because all that is left of Michael lives in the two women. Josie even lives with Meredith for a while. When Meredith is ready to go on tour again, she asks Josie to go to Europe with her. Before she can do that, she must go to 29 Palms and try to understand, finally, why Michael's depression pushed him over the edge. That puzzle is not solved, nor can it be, but the end of the story is a hopeful, upbeat, new beginning. Janet Fitch has beaten the curse of the sophomore slump with this dynamite second novel. --Valerie Ryan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Leigh's nuanced, intuitive narration makes Fitch's novel even more powerful. Leigh's narration brings out all the conflicting emotions and undercurrents of teenage punk rocker Josie as she struggles to deal with the suicide of her talented but emotionally tormented lover Michael. Leigh invests simple repeated lines like "Michael was never coming back" with different emotions each times: first she's trying to wrap her mind around the unthinkable, an urgent sense of panic, a burst of anger at the unfairness of life and at Michael for abandoning her, and finally a desolate sob of despair and loss. She ably evokes all the emotions of griefthe numbness and feeling of unreality, the rage, the sense of hopelessness, the longing for solace and normalcy. When reading Josie's dialogue, Leigh speaks in the low, wary tone of a girl who's been kicked around by life too many times. In contrast, she reads Michael's mother, Meredith, in confident, melodramatic, upper-class tones, her voice turning sinuous and seductive as she tries to manipulate Josie. In Leigh's capable hands, Fitch's compelling psychological character study resonates even more strongly on audio.
Copyright© American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Janet Fitch really did her homework for this book too. Being a fan of most music, I looked up some of the songs they talk about in this book. They were all accurate and really appropriate for the novel. I love the way Fitch shortens words, creating a believable voice for her characters. Its like a really beautiful,sad glimpse into a young girl's life. To sum it up in three words: Breathtaking. Angsty. Unexpected. I love this book so much.
Also, as many of the other reviewers noted, it is repetitive. And it annoyed me that Ms. Fitch was constantly referring to vodka as "voddy" and cigarettes as "ciggies". If the novel had been written in the first person, I could understand the use of these terms--but it wasn't.
Maybe part of my problem is that my expectations were too high thanks to my love for "White Oleander"...but I doubt it. I think this book may just be crappy.
You feel every weighted emotion Josie goes through, your heart taken by a hold so strong that you almost understand what it would feel like for your one true love, the one thing you cherished most, to commit suicide unexpectedly. How do you put together the pieces of a world fallen apart?
But the real basis of this story is passionate and unwavering love. A love the guides you in the understanding of life and the people that make up the world around you. A love that teaches you to see the world in color after only seeing black and white. A love that will never fade even though the body does.
Whole and complete, fulfilling in every way, Paint it Black is my favorite book and one of the most worthwhile reads you will ever encounter. It's true art and Janet Finch never ceases to amaze me with the exquisitely crafted stories she tells.
Read it, you will not be disappointed.