Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Color Master by Aimee Bender - A Glowing Review

Read this book.  Read this book.  Read this book.
Every once in a while I'm fortunate enough to get a book (to my bookaholic, bookslut delight, this one was an Advance Reader's Copy) that blows my mind...not often...not even semi-often, because I'm a jaded reader.  I've been reading since the age of 5...for over 50 years.  My brain is overflowing with words, plots, poems, stories, books, and madness to boot.   And don't ever think that books can't be poetry.  These stories are pure poetic prose.  I read some dark detective novels that are pure poetry (James Lee Burke comes to mind and Robert Crais).
But this book of short stories by Aimee Bender is magical and yes, original.  As I said in my Amazon review (the first one under the book):  If you're looking for a book full of stories that will make you see the world around you differently, then this is the book for you. These stories astonished me with their ingenious originality. 
I'm going to quote a page from my favorite story, "Tiger Mending":
"Watch, Sloane whispered.
I stood behind.  The two women from the front walked into view and settled on the ground near some clumps of ferns.  They waited.  They were very still-minded, like my sister, that stillness of mind.  That ability I will never have, to sit still.  That ability to have the hands forget they are hands.  They closed their eyes, and the moaning I'd heard before got louder, and then, in the distance, I mean waaaay off, the moaning grew even louder, almost unbearable to hear, and limping from the side lumbered two enormous tigers.  Wailing as if they were dying.  As they got closer, you could see that their backs were split open, sort of peeled, as if someone had torn them in two.  The fur was matted, and the stripes hung loose, like packing tape ripped off their bodies.  The women did not seem to move, but two glittering needles worked their way out of their knuckles, climbing up out of their hands, and one of the tigers stepped closer.  I thought I'd lose it; he was easily four times the first woman's size, and she was small, a tiger's snack, but he limped over, in his giantness, and fell into her lap.  Let his heavy striped head sink to the ground.  She smoothed the stripe back over, and the moment she pierced his fur with the needle, those big cat eyes dripped over with tears.
It was very powerful.  It brought me to tears, too.  Those expert hands, as steady as if he were a pair of pants, while the tiger's enormous head hung to the ground.  My sister didn't move, but I cried and cried, seeing the giant broken animal resting in the lap of the small precise woman.  It is so often surprising, who rescues you at your lowest moment..."
from:  "The Color Master" by Aimee Bender, pages 34, 35
I'm going to leave you there in hopes you'll buy her book (or get it from your local library) and read the rest of this brilliant story and all the other fabulous stories in this book.  My next favorite is the title story, "The Color Master".  It made me see differently.  Literally SEE with new eyes.  It glows with a rainbow of colors...There are 15 stories in all and each, in its own way, is a startling revelation.
We're having an entire rare, stormy, rainy week here in the swamps...perfect reading weather.  School starts here this week, so I also think of this as back-to-school weather...I'm headed off to read more of "Open Field - 30 Contemporary Canadian Poets", an amazing book overflowing with great poetry by my friends from the great frozen North.  I highly recommend it.

My favorite poet on earth is from Canada.  ;-)
"From every book invisible threads reach out to other books; and as the mind comes to use and control those threads the whole panorama of the world's life, past and present, becomes constantly more varied and interesting, while at the same time the mind's own powers of reflection and judgment are exercised and strengthened."  ~Helen E. Haines


quid said...

OOOOHHHHH.... I have got to get me to Amazon and find this one. I haven't been reading much lately. You paint a pretty powerful picture of this, Ms. Marion! Raining every day here, too...long about 4 pm. Powerful rain. I'll be glad as we head to fall. No hcanes yet!


erin said...

i am dumbfounded by the excerpt from the story. stilled. filled with wonder and a desire to have more and maybe even to be healed. holy.

i never got the short story before but just finished a book of short stories by Alistair Macleod. there is one, i will have to tell you which one, which blew my freaking mind. i read it to james while we drove to a neighbouring town 45 minutes away. i looked up and we were in the new town, and i unaware of any passing mile as i was so immersed in the story. by the end we were both weeping, almost shaking. he has the book. i'll ask him to remind me of the title.

love to you and your poets heart:)))


Marion said...

Lynn, you will love this book. It's really awesome. Great to see you back. I missed you! xo

Erin, I only recently (in the past few years) got into short stories, too. Some are like jewels while others leave me wanting more. My #1 fav short story of all time is "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver. That story just blows me away. I can't quote from it because I'd have to quote the entire story. I also love Lorrie Moore's book, "Birds of America".

I read Jodi Angel ("You Only Get Letters From Jail" and "The History of Vegas"), but her stories kick me right in the heart and are extremely painful to read. I have both of her books. She's a survivor and writes like she's on fire and has to get it all down before the flames consume her. I'm going look for the author you mentioned. Be sure to let me know the story you loved. xoxo

musicwithinyou said...

Thanks I'm always looking for new books that won't bore me.