Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Color Me, Oh Color Me

Read 2/02/10 - 2/08/10
2 Stars - Recommended Lightly

I want to start by thanking Tatra Press for their generosity in sending me this novel to review.

The story takes place in the New York Hudson Valley, and follows Rain Morton, a young painter, as she trys to make her mark in NYC. Parallel to her, we follow James Morrow, who runs a paint factory that uses "unique" ingredients to create their paints. Of course, their paths cross, in the moment they most needed to be understood and forgiven.

The Colorman is a difficult novel for me to review. There were moments of absolute beauty which made it clear to me that Erika Wood can write. Here are a few examples of paragraphs that practically took my breath away:

"Time was like a ski rope...You could either grip onto it and be carried forward or just let go and watch it slip by, bringing whatever it drags along past you. Then you can grab on again if you like, and just keep moving along with the pointlessness of its never-ending cycling".

"Red is the top of the rainbow out at the edge of the spectrum, the limit of our ability to see energy. Heat itself. Both love and war, humiliation and excitement, red is intensity, royality, a valentine, the pope, the devil, rouged lips, the bullfighter's cape, the can-can dancer's petticoat, Roxeanne's red light, a stop sign, a child's fire-truck, blood, the red red nose, red red wine, Christmas and hell."

"Purple is richness beyond measure, the sensuousness of wine stained lover's lips and the quenching sweetness of grape and berry. Purple is also injury and death: the florid purple of a bruise, the darkening face of a choking vicitim, the opalesence of rotting flesh."

The storyline itself - Struggling painter on the verge of finding herself, finds more than she bargins for in the country cottage left to her after her father's passing - worked for me. Each chapter begins with a color, defining what the color represents and how it is created. More than just a creative touch, each chapters tone matches the color for which it is written under.

While these things caught my attention and kept me wanting to read more, they could not make up for the lack of connection I felt with each character, and their individual situations.

The character development was more forced than felt. There was an absence of empathy, a rubber-like, almost emotionless quality in their conversations that made the novel difficult to read at times. Knowing that the author has personal experience in art, and her novel focusing on the art of painting, I suppose I expected it to be more passionate.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel for the story it told, but was underwhelmed at times with the way she told the story. Impressed with the clarity and beauty her words could create. Confused with the flat, one dimensional character interactions and development.

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