Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Color Master

The Color Master: Stories by Aimee Bender
Doubleday: 8/13/2013
240 pages


...a wondrous collection of dreamy, strange, and magical stories.
In this collection, Bender’s unique talents sparkle brilliantly in stories about people searching for connection through love, sex, and family—while navigating the often painful realities of their lives. A traumatic event unfolds when a girl with flowing hair of golden wheat appears in an apple orchard, where a group of people await her. A woman plays out a prostitution fantasy with her husband and finds she cannot go back to her old sex life. An ugly woman marries an ogre and struggles to decide if she should stay with him after he mistakenly eats their children. Two sisters travel deep into Malaysia, where one learns the art of mending tigers who have been ripped to shreds.
In these deeply resonant stories—evocative, funny, beautiful, and sad—we see ourselves reflected as if in a funhouse mirror. Aimee Bender has once again proven herself to be among the most imaginative, exciting, and intelligent writers of our time.
My Thoughts:

The Color Master: Stories is a newly released collection of short stories by Aimee Bender. Presented in three parts the 15 stories are all infused with a sadness (Bender also wrote The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake), as well as a dream-like quality in which the ordinary can take painful or unconventional turns.

More and more I find myself becoming a fan of the short story. There are stories in this collection that certainly would help that evolution along, but there are also several stories that were disturbing. My favorites were Tiger Mending, Faces, The Fake Nazi, Lemonade, Bad Return, Wordkeepers, The Color Master, and Americca.

The stories in the collection are:

Part One
"Appleless" was disturbing as a group of people who are only eating apples become entranced/obsessed by a woman who doesn't.
"The Red Ribbon" chronicles a wife who decides to make her husband pay for intimacy.
"Tiger Mending" follows two sisters into Malaysia where one is to mend tigers whose skin is shredding.
"Faces" is from the point of view of a boy whose concerned mother is trying to understand why he doesn't remember his friends' names or faces.
In "On a Saturday Afternoon" a young woman invites two male friends to her apartment and then plays a game that requires them to get intimate with each other while she watches.

Part Two
In "The Fake Nazi" an elderly man keeps turning himself into authorities for war crimes he couldn't have committed.
"Lemonade" follows a teenage girl at a mall - trying to fit in.
"Bad Return" delves into the friendships of women.
In "Origin Lessons" a professor explains the vastness of the universe.
"The Doctor and the Rabbi" tackles belief and how one lives their life.

Part Three
In "Wordkeepers" people are completely forgetting the names of common things, perhaps due to technology.
"The Color Master"
is based on a 17th century fairy tale where dress makers must make shoes/clothes to resemble
In "State of Variance" a woman who only sleeps an hour a night tells her son that he has a face that is too perfect, too symmetrical.
In "Americca" a family is disturbed to find useful but odd items mysteriously appearing in their home.
"The Devourings
” is another story based on an earlier fairy tale. A human woman marries a male ogre, who accidentally eats their children.

Highly Recommended - if you enjoy magic realism and can handle some provocative content.

AIMEE BENDER is the author of the novels The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake—a New York Times bestseller—and An Invisible Sign of My Own, and of the collections The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and Willful Creatures. Her works have been widely anthologized and have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in Los Angeles.

Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from Doubleday for review purposes. 

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