November 8, 2008

lips dark as if he'd been drinking ink

" she hid her face in the furry collar of her coat. registered as oscar wilde. she wanted to wake up like dorothy and see michael's face peering over the side of the bed, laughing. why, you just hit your head. but it was no dream and there was no kansas and he was never coming back. "

paint in black by janet fitch.

all is well for lovestruck bohemians josie and michael, a story set against the '80s in los angeles, until josie must identify her dead lovers' body, "his lips black like leather", when all of her dreams turn to black. michael's death promises struggle and pain for josie, but also for his mother, meredith, with whom josie commences a strange relationship based on loss, which presents itself with many questions ... did they really love eachother ? and what about michael's previous harvard life, dripping with crystals and so intriguing ? fitch presents the characters through contrast in a brilliantly written novel about the hardships of loss and the perpetual questions one cannot find answers for.

i loved this book.

and it was tremendously appropriate for me to have read it throughout my sejour in los angeles this summer - i saw echo park and sunset boulevard in a very different light, considering the brilliant context in which this book was created. janet fitch is an inspirational author, for her extensive description and terrific use of comparisons, as she capitalizes on contrast for the benefit of wonderful characterization.

some books janet fitch took inspiration from for the creation of paint in black, and others she simply recommends :

  • the thirteen clocks by james thurber.
  • the ballad of reading gaol by oscar wilde.
  • the memory room by mary rakow.
  • play it as it lays by joan didion.

if you've read any of them, let me know what you though, as i will no doubt be feasting on them in record time - my hunger for astonishing prose has yet to be satisfied.



a. said...

i have actually many times picked up this book in the bookstore, solely for the attraction to the cover.

i think i even began reading it once. but im so bad with books; always starting & never finishing. it takes a lot to keep my interest. perhaps i should give it another try.


Lydia said...

I really want to check this book out!
And your comment made me giggle
<3 Lydia

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Jen (MahaloFashion) said...

I'll have to look for it next time I'm at chapters!

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the ballad or reading gaol by oscar wilde is amazing... simply amazing. one of my favourites. oscar wilde is just such a clever author, and i love his dry wit.

i haven't read this book, but i'm going to definitely give it a go. i've looked at it countless times but decided against it. i'm going to have to read it now!


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i'm horrible with books. they have to captivate me from the start or else i'll never finish them...

"the love affairs of a bibliomaniac" by eugene field is my all-time favorite book. a little memoir of musings and cute prose concerning his book obsession, with chapter titles such as "on the odour my book exhale". i randomly found this book when looking through my attic. first edition, published in 189-, with intact gilded pages!

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