Josie Tyrell is a punked out, white trash art
model and student film actress living in 1980s Los Angeles. The love of her life, Michael Faraday, is
a rich boy, Harvard drop-out, son of a writer father and concert pianist
mother. Josie has never been happier; despite their very different
upbringings, she and Michael are in love, and she loves their life
together. She believes Michael does, too. Then Josie receives a call
from the coronerís office; Michael is on a slab in the morgue, dead from a
self-inflicted bullet. Michaelís mother blames Josieóto the point where
she puts her hands around Josieís throat and tries to strangle her at
Plunged into the depths of grief and anguish and left with only memories,
a vodka-gulping, barbiturate-popping Josie tries to understand why Michael
would take his own life. Her quest brings her to interact with Michaelís
family. Michaelís father paints a very different picture of the young man
Josie knew. Michaelís mother (whose sanity is questionable) decides that
Josie can help her understand the son she thought she knew, and a strange
relationship between the two ensues. The secrets and lies that Michael left
behind reveal an oh-no-not-another sick Oedipal mother-son relationship
and results in a destruction from which Josie must rise.
Janet Fitch is an extremely talented novelist. Her first novel, White
Oleander, was a huge success. If you enjoyed White Oleander, as I did, and expect more of the same in Paint It Black, youíll be disappointed.
Make no mistake: Paint It Black, aptly named, is very well written. It
is harsh, emotional, and provocative. Some readers call it profound; I
didnít see it that way. Others call it haunting; and that it isóbut I
donít want to be haunted by it. Dark? Yes. Raw? Definitely.
Depressing? Oh, yeah. You betcha.
If you like well-written yet overwhelmingly bleak, dismal contemporary
fiction, then donít miss this one. But I can get my daily dose of
depression from the newspaper, thanks.