Paint It Black: A Novel

( 87 )


"A dark, crooked beauty that fulfills all the promise of White Oleander and confirms that Janet Fitch is an artist of the very highest order."--Los Angeles Times Book Review

Josie Tyrell, art model, runaway, and denizen of LA's rock scene finds a chance at real love with Michael Faraday, a Harvard dropout and son of a renowned pianist. But when she receives a call from the coroner, asking her to identify her lover's body, her bright dreams all ...

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"A dark, crooked beauty that fulfills all the promise of White Oleander and confirms that Janet Fitch is an artist of the very highest order."--Los Angeles Times Book Review

Josie Tyrell, art model, runaway, and denizen of LA's rock scene finds a chance at real love with Michael Faraday, a Harvard dropout and son of a renowned pianist. But when she receives a call from the coroner, asking her to identify her lover's body, her bright dreams all turn to black.

As Josie struggles to understand Michael's death and to hold onto the world they shared, she is both attracted to and repelled by his pianist mother, Meredith, who blames Josie for her son's torment. Soon the two women are drawn into a twisted relationship that reflects equal parts distrust and blind need.

With the luxurious prose and fever pitch intensity that are her hallmarks, Janet Fitch weaves a spellbinding tale of love, betrayal, and the possibility of transcendence.

"Lushly written, dramatically plotted. . . Fitch's Los Angeles is so real it breathes." -Atlantic Monthly

"There is nothing less than a stellar sentence in this novel. Fitch's emotional honesty recalls the work of Joyce Carol Oates, her strychnine sentences the prose of Paula Fox." -Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A page-turning psychodrama. . . . Fitch's prose penetrates the inner lives of [her characters] with immediacy and bite." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Fitch wonderfully captures the abrasive appeal of punk music, the bohemian, sometimes squalid lifestyle, the performers, the drugs, the alienation. This is crackling fresh stuff you don't read every day." -USA Today

"In dysfunctional family narratives, Fitch is to fiction what Eugene O'Neill is to drama." -Chicago Sun-Times

"Riveting. . . . An uncommonly accomplished page-turner." -Elle

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Whitbread Award winner Kate Atkinson struck pay dirt with her fourth novel, the breakthrough Case Histories, a dazzling thriller that introduced the engaging detective Jackson Brodie. Now, to our everlasting delight, Atkinson returns her protaganist to active duty in this stunning sequel that opens rather spectacularly with a shocking incident of road rage on an Edinburgh street. Witnessed by Brodie and a motley crew of bystanders, this episode triggers a chain of bizarre events linking everyone -- victim, attacker, and specators -- in startling, unexpected ways. As in her other "literary" novels, Atkinson digs deep into her characters' lives, rifling through their sad and sinster secrets and exposing complicated relationships with deft precision. Suffused with wit and gentle humor, and enlivened by a folksy, "entre nous" prose style that turns readers into co-conspirators, here is One Good Turn that surely deserves another.
Stephen Amidon
… a remarkable feat of storytelling bravado …
— The Washington Post
Janet Maslin
In the past Ms. Atkinson has played the minor time trick of letting events almost converge and then replaying them from slightly different points of view. She does that here to the same smart, unnerving effect. And she frequently brings up the image of Russian dolls, each hidden inside another, to illustrate how her storytelling tactics work.

By the apt ending of One Good Turn a whole series of these dolls has been opened. In the process the book has borne out one of Jackson’s favorite maxims: "A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen."
— The New York Times

Chris Bohjalian
As she did with White Oleander, Fitch has given us a courageous and interesting young woman who handles the bad cards she has been dealt with grace and resolve. No one, not even Cinderella, knows better than Josie Tyrell that life isn't fair -- and no one, despite some very long odds, seems more likely to transcend the role of victim and succeed with or without her fairy-tale prince.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

A crowd on a busy street at Edinburgh's famous Fringe Festival witness a brutal crime. Downes has the task of portraying half a dozen characters who become entangled in the complex aftermath of what looks at first like a straightforward assault. A master of dialect, Downes portrays several characters from different classes and locales in England and Scotland with apparent ease. He also takes on, with gusto, the voice of a mysterious Russian woman. Exceptionally well performed is the voice of Martin Canning, a successful crime writer whose sleuth is decidedly more masculine than his creator. Downes has a firm grip on the swings in Martin's personality: he is by turns frightened and apologetic, yet cunning and secretive. Best known for his role in the British television series Babylon 5, Downes uses Atkinson's novel to display his range. He is aided by the seamlessly abridged text of a delightful crime novel that refuses to let the characters be merely victims or victimizers. For audio enthusiasts, this is a "must hear." Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, July 17). (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Publishers Weekly
Leigh's nuanced, intuitive narration makes Fitch's novel even more powerful. Leigh 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 grief-the 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. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, June 19). (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Beauty and its pretenders prowl around the edges of Fitch's long-awaited second novel. Just as she did so masterfully in White Oleander, Fitch portrays the world of a young woman who is searching for a way to live after being dealt an incredibly lousy hand. Opting for the antithesis of beauty, Josie Tyrell exists within the punk club scene of 1980s Los Angeles, and, unfortunately, she finds familiar terrain in that subculture's harshness and brutal sexuality. Not until she meets Michael Faraday, a child of affluence and privilege, does Josie know that there is such a thing as true beauty in the world. He teaches her about the beauty of the night sky; of music, art, and poetry. But his obsession becomes his undoing as he cannot find enough of this transcendent beauty to protect him from his demons. Giving in to the inescapable lure of his family's ghosts, he commits suicide. Michael was the sole source of light for Josie and his tortured, tortuous mother: now both women engage in a dangerous struggle to survive in a world of darkness. As Josie unravels the story of Michael's despair, she becomes able to move from self-destruction to self-determination. Suspenseful, compelling, and superbly crafted, this work shows Fitch once again taking the art of writing to its highest level. Highly recommended for all contemporary fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/06.]-Susanne Wells, P.L. of Cincinnati and Hamilton Cty. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Bereavement, alienation and survivor's anger are the legacy bequeathed to the stunned protagonist of Californian Fitch's somber second novel. Josie Tyrell is a 20-year-old artist's model, sometime-actress and substance-abuser whose already chaotic life in L.A.'s underground artistic environs is further unsettled when she's notified that her boyfriend, Michael Faraday, has killed himself in a rundown motel. As she did in her Oprah-selected White Oleander (1999), Fitch structures this as a contest between two determined women: embittered Josie (who's intent on learning why her rapturous life with Michael, a struggling artist, wasn't enough for him), and Michael's mother, Meredith Loewy, a celebrated concert pianist and smothering matriarch whose attitude toward Josie vacillates between homicidal resentment and almost sisterly empathy. This backward-and-forward momentum at least varies Fitch's numbing concentration on Josie's emotional outrage, as does a subplot involving an independent movie in production (whose cluelessly smug director envisions it as "Bergman meets Hitchcock in Antonioni's unmade bed"), a preening sex machine who calls himself Nick Nitro and a handsome young actor who worms his way into Josie's bed without ever eliciting a response from her. But the changing relationship of Meredith and Josie is central, and the story almost catches fire as Fitch peels away successive layers of pretense to reveal each woman's hidden story (Meredith's history of losing other loved ones before Michael, Josie's uncomfortable memories of her white-trash family and sexually threatening older brother). Yet it wallows in self-pity and indignation, even in the climactic pages, where Josiebelieves she knows Meredith's real secret, returns to that motel and acknowledges the truth about Michael, which she has unsuccessfully repressed: "He loved me, but he hated himself more."Vivid writing here and there, but Josie is a dull character, and the story is a real downer.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316067140
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 10/3/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 211,391
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Janet Fitch's first novel, White Oleander, a #1 bestseller and Oprah's Book Club selection, has been translated into 24 languages and was made into a feature film. A native of Los Angeles, Fitch currently teaches fiction writing in the Master of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California.
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Read an Excerpt


HE WAS LOST. HE WASN'T USED TO BEING LOST. HE WAS THE KIND OF man who drew up plans and then executed them efficiently, but now everything was conspiring against him in ways he decided he couldn't have foreseen. He had been stuck in a jam on the A1 for two mind-numbing hours so that it was already past the middle of the morning when he arrived in Edinburgh.Then he'd gone adrift on a one-way system and been thwarted by a road closed because of a burst water main. It had been raining, steadily and unforgivingly, on the drive north and had only begun to ease off as he hit the outskirts of town.The rain had in no way deterred the crowds - it had never occurred to him that Edinburgh was in the middle of 'the Festival' and that there would be carnival hordes of people milling around as if the end of a war had just been declared. The closest he had previously got to the Edinburgh Festival was accidentally turning on Late Night Review and seeing a bunch of middle-class wankers discussing some pretentious piece of fringe theatre.

He ended up in the dirty heart of the city, in a street that somehow seemed to be on a lower level than the rest of the town, a blackened urban ravine.The rain had left the cobbles slick and greasy and he had to drive cautiously because the street was teeming with people, haphazardly crossing over or standing in little knots in the middle of the road, as if no one had told them that roads were for cars and pavements were for pedestrians. A queue snaked the length of the street - people waiting to get into what looked like a bomb hole in the wall but which announced itself, on a large placard outside the door, as 'Fringe Venue 164'.

The name on the driving licence in his wallet was Paul Bradley. 'Paul Bradley' was a nicely forgettable name. He was several degrees of separation away from his real name now, a name that no longer felt as if it had ever belonged to him.When he wasn't working he often (but not always) went by the name 'Ray'. Nice and simple.Ray of light, Ray of darkness. Ray of sunshine, Ray of night. He liked slipping between identities, sliding through the cracks. The rental Peugeot he was driving felt just right, not a flashy macho machine but the kind of car an ordinary guy would drive. An ordinary guy like Paul Bradley. If anyone asked him what he did, what Paul Bradley did, he would say,'Boring stuff. I'm just a desk jockey, pushing papers around in an accounts department.'

He was trying to drive and at the same time decipher his A-Z of Edinburgh to work out how to escape from this hellish street when someone stepped in front of the car. It was a type he loathed - a young dark-haired guy with thick, black-framed spectacles, two days of stubble and a fag hanging out of his mouth, there were hundreds of them in London, all trying to look like French existentialists from the Sixties. He'd bet that not one of them had ever opened a book on philosophy. He'd read the lot, Plato, Kant, Hegel, even thought about one day doing a degree.

He braked hard and didn't hit the spectacles guy, just made him give a little jump, like a bullfighter avoiding the bull. The guy was furious, waving his fag around, shouting, raising a finger to him. Charmless, devoid of manners - were his parents proud of the job they'd done? He hated smoking, it was a disgusting habit, hated guys who gave you the finger and screamed,'Spin on it!', saliva flying out of their filthy, nicotine-stained mouths.

He felt the bump, about the same force as hitting a badger or a fox on a dark night, except it came from behind, pushing him forward. It was just as well the spectacles guy had performed his little paso doble and got out of the way or he would have been pancaked. He looked in the rear-view mirror. A blue Honda Civic, the driver climbing out - big guy, slabs of weightlifter muscle, gym-fit rather than survival-fit, he wouldn't have been able to last three months in the jungle or the desert the way that Ray could have done. He wouldn't have lasted a day. He was wearing driving gloves, ugly black leather ones with knuckle holes. He had a dog in the back of the car, a beefy Rottweiler, exactly the dog you would have guessed a guy like that would have. The guy was a walking cliché. The dog was having a seizure in the back, spraying saliva all over the window, its claws scrabbling on the glass.The dog didn't worry him too much. He knew how to kill dogs.

Ray got out of the car and walked round to the back bumper to inspect the damage. The Honda driver started yelling at him, 'You stupid, fucking twat, what did you think you were doing?' English. Ray tried to think of something to say that would be nonconfrontational, that would calm the guy down - you could see he was a pressure cooker waiting to blow, wanting to blow, bouncing on his feet like an out-of-condition heavyweight. Ray adopted a neutral stance, a neutral expression, but then he heard the crowd give a little collective 'Aah' of horror and he registered the baseball bat that had suddenly appeared in the guy's hand out of nowhere and thought, shit.

That was the last thought he had for several seconds.When he was able to think again he was sprawled on the street, holding the side of his head where the guy had cracked him. He heard the sound of broken glass - the bastard was putting in every window in his car now. He tried, unsuccessfully, to struggle to his feet but managed only to get to a kneeling position as if he was at prayer and now the guy was advancing with the bat lifted, feeling the heft of it in his hand, ready to swing for a home run on his skull. Ray put an arm up to defend himself,made himself even more dizzy by doing that and, sinking back on to the cobbles, thought, Jesus, is this it? He'd given up, he'd actually given up - something he'd never done before - when someone stepped out of the crowd, wielding something square and black that he threw at the Honda guy, clipping him on the shoulder and sending him reeling.

He blacked out again for a few seconds and when he came to there were a couple of policewomen hunkered down beside him, one of them saying, 'Just take it easy, sir,' the other one on her radio calling for an ambulance. It was the first time in his life that he'd been glad to see the police.
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 87 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 87 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2007

    Brutally Real

    With intense imagery and often painful scenes, Janet Fitch has painted a masterpiece. You may not like it's graphic nature and it's punk characters, but if you know the rock scene and have lived through hard times you will understand it. It is beautifully put together by some one who knows the true nature of words. For me, it has been the most interesting book I have read since her debut novel, White Oleander.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2009

    Interesting Conflicted Characters, but Oh Did This Story Drag!

    From reading previous reader reviews, it seems people either loved the book or hated it. I fall somewhere in between. The main characters were interesting, conflicted, and--especially with regard to Josie and Meredith--presented at great contrast to one another. However, I think I would have enjoyed this book more if it were about 100 pages shorter. In real life when someone dies, those closest to the person suffer for a long time--months, often years--with little relief. I understand that. And since this novel took place over a period of only about two months from the time Josie first learns of her boyfriend Michael's suicide, it is only natural that both Josie and Michael's mother, Meredith, would be mourning throughout, but it is hard to make that work in a book and keep the reader interested. <BR/><BR/>That being said, there were some excellent scenes between Josie and Meredith which created great intensity and conflict in the story. Meredith constantly plays on Josie's sympathy only to use that sympathy as a ploy to get something she wants. Such as asking to see where Josie and her son lived, then using that knowledge to ransack Josie's home and take everthing that she and Michael once shared. For this reason, I kept waiting to find out some devious hidden reason for why Meredith befriends her again offering to take her to Europe with her, but that part of the story just dropped away. Getting back to the ransacked home, I also felt Josie's actions were implausible. Why didn't she call the police? Sure, it is explained away that she did not like the police, which is not so surprising with her heavy substance abuse problems--but, come on now! We're talking breaking and entering and robbery of all all the stuff that made up her life with the man she supposedly so desperately loved! <BR/><BR/>Like so many of us, when we are going through a difficult period, we often look for some kind of sign, and Josie, between drug and alcoholic hazes, keeps on doing that again and again. (What the recurring coyote image was supposed to mean is anyone's guess.) She believes she gets a sign out of something she finds at the end of the book, but it wasn't much--anything really--to go on. No matter. It helps her to get some closure, which after more than 400 long drawn-out pages made me just glad to see it come to an end. Just wrap a bunch of enigmatic thoughts and emotions in some deep French girl references, and let the reader make of it what she will. I was so hoping for Josie's character to grow some, but even as she attempts to rescue another forgotten girl at the end, I found it impossible to forget that she was still driving back to L.A. with drugs in her purse.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2008

    Paint It Black: A Short Review

    Paint It Black: A Short Review of Janet Fitch's Novel Having read and enjoyed White Oleander by Janet Fitch I suspected that her novel, Paint It Black 'Back Bay Books, Little, Brown & Company' would be a good read also. I was correct. I am reading slower than I used to. Perhaps it is the underlining and the marginal notes slowing me down, but I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. I've always loved stories about art, artists, musicians, and writers, and maybe that's why I was attracted to this story of Josie Tyrell, and the tragedies, loves, and nemeses of her life. The novel is rich in allusions, intense in conflict, and the author's prose and diction is rich. The novel is a portrait of Los Angeles and its bohemian rock music, film, and art scene. It is also a study of grief 'over a suicide' of artists, creativity, and their quests for perfection of dreams and dreamers of the heavy hand of guilt of beauty, love, loss, and sadness and of how people live in and are supported by the music they listen to. Fitch has amazing and intense insights into the human psyche and heart. I've tried to analyze why this novel affected me so deeply. Maybe it's because I've known nude models like Josie and writers, artists, and musicians like Michael. Perhaps it's because, like Michael, I am often haunted, and have my own personal demons, demons that refuse to be exorcised. Fitch is a brilliant and insightful writer. Her writing deserves our attention. Though there many more I could have selected, here are some of my favorite quotations from Paint it Black: 'Nobody ever really loved a lover. Because love was a private party, and nobody got on the guest list.' (1' )[E]ven lies could be true, if you knew how to listen.' (27) She just kept talking, like a drunk arguing with ghosts . . .(32) How right that the body changed over time, becoming a gallery of scars, a canvass of experience, a testament to life and one's capacity to endure it.' (67)The stupid things you say in the rain, that can't ever be washed away.' (81) Pen had no sense that someone might want to keep her private life private. Privacy wasn't even a concept. She'd never closed a bathroom door in her life.' (83)Each man kills the thing he loves'--Oscar Wilde 'This is repeated many times in the novel and has to be a theme'. 'It was the way the world really ran, in little signs and signals.' (160) Girls were born knowing how destructive the truth could be.' (236) Sometimes things that happened were just too solid to move, like some huge bookcase or black breakfront that had dug its legs into the floor over the years.' (272) That kind of tenderness couldn't be permitted to last. Nothing that beautiful could live long. It wasn't allowed. You only got a taste . . . then you paid for it the rest of your life. Like the guy chained to rock, who stole fire . . . You paid for every second of beauty you managed to steal.' (278) You gave things away you couldn't afford to lose. Private things. You showed yourself and you couldn't take it back.' (306) Insomnia and the hulls of dead dreams blowing across the floor of the empty rooms like dry leaves.' (337) It was a mistake you could never recover from.' (351) Her soul' A moldy old scrap only fit throwing away, not even the devil would take it on consignment.' (361) I love the desert, and I love this quotation Fitch has' '[S]he understood people who'd choose to live like that, isolated in a dry hard terrain, so far from comfort . . . Hard people, whose own company was even more than they could stomach.' (378) And here: '[T]he Arabs invented zero, because they were a desert people, at home with absence. . . This was his landscape, bitter cold, populated only by rocks and strange leafless trees, no softness or mercy, no touch of green.' (411)

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2006

    Beautifully Written

    Like White Oleander, this book was written with such vivid description that you feel as though you know the characters and have visited the places she writes about. This book does leave you feeling heavy but I couldn¿t put it down. I highly recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2006

    A fascinating relationship drama

    Michael Faraday hated college so he left Harvard without a diploma to become an artist. He became a painter with growing accolades in Los Angeles. As his fame grew, his dark side also grew until by 1981 he committed suicide.---------------- Art model Josie Tyrell was falling in love with Michael, but could never get him to fully commit his heart and soul to her because of his deep ties to his famous mother, concert pianist Meredith Loewy. Each woman holds the other culpable for why Michael killed himself. Meredith blames the white trash Josie on the other hand Josie blames the aloof affluent Michael. However, ironically each begins to find solace with one another as they mourn the loss of the cherished one they both loved.--------------- PAINT IT BLACK is a fascinating relationship drama as the two women compete for the affection of Michael until he kills himself and they turn to one another for solace. Janet Fitch gets inside the souls of her triangle as the audience sees what drives Michael to suicide, why his mother lives in a sterile cold existence and how Josie is obsessed to overcome her trashy roots. Fans of contemporary character studies will enjoy Ms. Fitch¿s strong look at how relationships change when a pivotal life event (in this case death) occurs.------------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2014


    There is no holding back the raw emotions of death of those left behind. Wonderfully written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2014

    Loved it.

    Purchased this book not expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. Can be dark at times, going into Josie's thoughts, and not knowing if she will take her own life. All said and done, I really enjoyed Paint it Black.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2012


    I love this book. Ive read it multiple times and the same can be said for white oleander. I love janet fitchs writing style and i am always checking to see if shes writing another book, shes my favorite author by far.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2012

    First white, now black and I'm beyond blue

    A novel for a brilliantly sunshiny day and a night of your favorite sitcom. You'll need it to counter this utterly depressing work that leaves you exhausted. If you're a fan of the melodramatic (as I am) it's right up your alley.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011


    This is my favorite book ever written! Janet Fitch is an amazing author, I love her work!

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  • Posted April 13, 2011


    Love love loved this! Couldn't put it down. Janet Fitch is a very skilled writer, very descriptive and thorough. The pictures she paints for the reader are vivid, and the emotion is real. I am eager to read more by her...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 20, 2011

    Captures the reality of the relationship

    Anyone who has been romantically involved with an artist and dealt with depression or other psychological abnormalities will love this book. Especially if it happens to fit the scene, young punk rocker trying to decide what is valuable and what is trivial; and the most important question, how much of them are you responsible for?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Dark story about a suicide

    Interestingly enough, this is both a page-turner and a definite downer. Don't read it if you are feeling depressed.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    didn't disappoint!

    I was a huge fan of Janet Fitch after reading White Oleander, so if you enjoyed that book, this one will most likely appeal to you as well. It is equally dark and forlorn, and a bit depressing in subject, but it was captivating due to the characters. I found myself pondering the book in between readings, as it gives a lot of food for thought. Janet Fitch has a very dramatic writing style, some people have said too much so, but I really appreciate the detail she puts into describing the scenes and characters; it almost feels as if you can smell what they smell and taste what they taste. The dramatic start which finds Josie learning about her boyfriend's suicide pretty much sets the tone for the entire book, but the great thing about it is that you really learn about their relationship over the course of the novel, and the realization of the devastation to the reader doesn't fully sink in until their characters are completely unfolded before us. if you are looking for a happy ending, this may not be your read, which is pretty obvious from the beginning. but it certainly doesn't disappoint in drama or emotion. I thought it was touching, though twisted, and the author isn't afraid to create flawed characters who come to life beautifully through description.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    An interesting perspective on tragedy that I'd never imagined

    I purchased this audio book after having read White Oleander by the same author. I put it in and, at first, I was taken back by the swearing and the dark beginning. I began to wonder if I'd become so much of a mother and a wife that I couldn't see myself enjoying the book. I decided that I hadn't so I kept listening while I worked on some mindless computer work. After a while I was completely intrigued with the subject and how the characters dealt with the tragedy presented to them.
    I began to really see the void that suicide leaves in the lives of survivors. I've never thought much about suicide because I was never affected by it. This was a very thought provoking and rawly emotional story. The other subject that hung in the air was love. Not just any love, the love of a soul mate. I could actually feel the pain in the story because of the fantasticly desccriptive art of Janet Fitch.

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  • Posted March 12, 2010

    A gorgeous tragedy

    Janet Fitch's "Paint It Black" is the dark but beautifully told story of Josie, a Los Angeles art model from the wrong side of the tracks, and her fated relationship with Michael, a wealthy heir with burdensome genius. Fitch's use of language, imagery, and elements of popular culture weave a powerful and moving tapestry of a life enmeshed in sex, drugs, rock and roll, grief, and heartbreak, and its collision with the upper echalante, which hides a million skeletons in its closet.

    "Paint It Black" is not a book for the non-cerebral reader, nor is it a book that will leave you with a hopeful or happy feeling once you reach its end. Rather, it is a case study in the grief-catalyzed total upheaval of a life and how we all try to put the pieces back together. Nevertheless, anyone who appreciates well-written literature will enjoy this book. Fitch is a master of character development and really makes the reader feel the rawness of Josie's experiences.

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  • Posted August 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    good book

    i like the setting: drugs, sex, rock n roll, in hollywood. great book!

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  • Posted June 21, 2009

    Still don't really know the point...

    This book starts out interesting and then quickly dies off. I finished it hoping I'd eventually find the point or a climax, but, in the end, I was just dissapointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2009


    Paint It Black was completely different than White Oleander. In my opinion, the two books were the exact opposite.
    However, that only made Paint It Black that much better. This book proved that Janet Fitch could be incredibly versatile. I thought that Josie was such a realistic character, and I enjoyed being in her position and being with her for a short period of time.
    Also, the love between Josie and Michael was so original.
    Everyone should really give Paint It Black a try; it is a good read.

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  • Posted March 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Just Okay

    I had really high hopes for this book. It starts out okay, however the more you get into it, the harder it got to get through it. There were so many times where there was no dialogue for pages at a time. Just Josie's thoughts. Which is good sometimes, but i just made the book go so slow. It was just her grieving thoughts. Nothing really happened in the book.

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