Paint It Black

Paint It Black

by Janet Fitch


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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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316067140
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 10/03/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 284,385
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Janet Fitch is the author of the novels White Oleander (Little Brown, 1999), an Oprah Book club selection translated into 24 languages and made into a feature motion picture, Paint It Black (Little, Brown 2006), also widely translated and made into a feature film, and The Revolution of Marina M. (Little, Brown 2017) set during the years of the Russian Revolution. A fourth novel completing Marina's story, Chimes of a Lost Cathedral, will be published by Little, Brown in summer 2019. Fitch lives in her hometown of Los Angeles with her writer husband Andrew Nicholls.

Read an Excerpt

Paint It Black

A Novel
By Janet Fitch


Copyright © 2006 Janet Fitch
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-316-18274-5

Chapter One


Cold numbed the tip of Josie Tyrell's nose and her ass, just outside the reach of the studio space heater. Her leg had fallen asleep. She twisted her slight torso, enough to release tension, but not enough to disturb the painter working across the room in his paint-spotted Mao suit, his hair in a waist-length braid. Henry Ko wasn't painting well today. He had to stop every few minutes to wipe his eyes on the back of his hand, while Double Fantasy circled around on the studio stereo. Everyone was playing it now. John Lennon had just been shot in New York, and wherever Josie went, people were playing the same fucking Beatles songs until you wanted to throw up. At least Double Fantasy had Yoko Ono.

On the cover that leaned against the dirty couch, John and Yoko pressed together for a kiss they would never finish. People were always trashing Yoko Ono, blaming her for breaking up the Beatles, but Josie knew they were just jealous that John preferred Yoko to some bloated megaband. Nobody ever really loved a lover. Because love was a private party, and nobody got on the guest list. She liked the pictures of Yoko and John in their white bed, their frizzy hippie hair. They'd retreated to the country with two passports only. Fromthe outside it looked like death. People could pound the walls all they wanted, but they'd never find the door. Nobody could guess at the gardens inside.

Out the long windows of Henry Ko's studio, the hills and shacks of Echo Park tumbled toward Sunset Boulevard like a child's bedspread scattered with toys. Bare winter jacarandas broke the view with their angular arms, round pods hanging from their branch wrists like castanets. Henry kept crying about John Lennon. Josie felt worse about Darby Crash. Darby had just killed himself in an act of desperate theater, a gesture swamped by the Beatle 's death like a raft in the backwash of a battleship. But at least she'd known him, with his shyness, his broken-toothed smile. She'd hung with him at the Masque, at the Fuckhouse, and on Carondelet. He hadn't been a natural performer, he had to get wasted, cramming anything he could swallow into his mouth, then played shows so intense that they hurt you to watch, made you feel like a creepy voyeur. Darby just needed people to notice him, someone to care. All their friends had gone to the funeral, everybody but her. His death was so horribly unnecessary, such a stupid stunt, acted out by someone so sad and fucked up he would kill himself out of a need to be noticed. Josie thought it was repulsive to treat it like a party. And then the Beatle took it all away anyway.

"But he wanted it that way," Pen said. She'd covered it for Puke magazine, saying who'd been there, like it was an afterparty.

At least they'd known him. Whereas look at Henry. Getting all teary-eyed over John Lennon whom he'd never even met. Huge crowds converged last weekend in Griffith Park to mourn the lost Beatle. They didn't go, she and Pen and their friends, you could just tell it was going to be some overaged love-in, hippie beads and "Give Peace a Chance." When anybody could tell, nobody was ever going to give fucking peace a chance. Nobody was going back to Woodstock anytime soon.

But she was sure old Henry'd showed up with the other granolaheads, lit incense and rang finger cymbals and blew some pot, no doubt, in John's memory. Om rama rama. Did John Lennon really want all that? Was that what he was about? From what she'd heard, the guy'd had some wit and brains-did he really want to be the dead guy of the hour, like a melting centerpiece?

Finally, the artist stepped away from his easel, sighing. "What say, Jo-say. Pack it in?"

She unfurled her legs, felt the blood rush back, that tingle and burn, stretching fragile shoulders, their delicate bones clearly visible, small breasts with their dark nipples, the black triangle that contrasted with her unlikely bleached hair, the roots coming in dark. She put her clothes back on-a vintage dress she 'd traded for a domino bracelet, torn leggings-and worked her feet into spikeheeled pumps from Goodwill. As Henry cleaned his brushes, she touched up her bloodred lipstick, then joined him on the couch, orange velvet edged in brown dirt. He rolled a joint, special dope he called "The Spider"-brown turds of buds his friends in Hawaii sent him. Old hippies got so into their pot. She didn't mind sharing, but you didn't have to make a cult out of it.

As they smoked, Henry went on about John Lennon, how he couldn't believe he was dead, like the guy was some fucking saint. "He'd finally found himself," he kept saying. "That cat had just finally worked it out."

She toked along with him, knee to knee, and thought about the guy who shot Lennon. Shot by a desperate fan. On the news, fans were always desperate. Got his signature and then shot him down. The saddest thing about it was that she wasn't more shocked. To Josie, it just seemed part of the way things were heading, Ronald Reagan, greedheads running everything. Killing John Lennon seemed like just mopping up. Thirty thousand people missing in El Salvador, those nuns, and everybody in America was worried about who shot JR.

She and Henry leaned back against the couch. The Spider, she had to admit, was major deluxe. Henry turned his head slowly, keeping it supported on the couch back, looking at her with his small pot-reddened eyes that always smiled, even if he was angry or sad. He smelled of some weird liniment he brewed himself for nursing his tai chi injuries, roots and licorice and some kind of bugs. He put his hand on her knee. "Jo-say, you still with that guy, that Harvard cat?"

His hand on her knee. Henry Ko was like thirty-five, what was she supposed to do with an old guy like that? "Michael. Yeah, we 're still together." At least she hoped they were. Maybe he was back. In fact, he might be home right now, waiting for her. Suddenly, she had to go. She put her child-sized hand on top of the artist's turpentinedry one. "But I'll let you know if we break up, Henry, I swear."

She drove back to Lemoyne in her rattly Ford Falcon, a powder blue relic with band stickers on the trunk-X, Germs, Cramps. It was normally a three-minute drive, but she hit a line of cars with their lights on. Why were they going so slow? Maybe another John Lennon thing. She honked, wove, and passed until she got to the front and saw it was a hearse. Mortified, she turned off onto a side street and stopped, red-faced. How was she supposed to know-a line of cars crawling along with their lights on? Some days it felt like her sister Luanne had just dropped her off at MacArthur Park day before yesterday.

She drove the rest of the way under the speed limit, parked in front of her house, took the mail from her mailbox, and pulled the noose on the gate. Careful in her high heels, she descended the rickety steps to the little cabin behind. Nothing more than a shack, but they loved it back here, the giant birds-of-paradise netted with morning glories, so private they didn't need curtains. She opened the door, threw her key in the red bowl, and called out, "Hey, Michael?"

Silence. The empty chairs, the paintings, the wooden-bead curtain between the main room and the kitchen. The only sounds came in through the open window, that overlooked the steady traffic on the 2 and the 5. It had been five days since he'd stood there, in the kitchen doorway, beads pushed aside, grinding coffee with his brass Turkish grinder shaped like a tube. Telling her he was going away. She'd been getting dressed for a booking in Northridge. "I'm going up to Meredith's for a few days," he'd said. His mother was gone, off on tour in Uruguay or Paraguay and good fucking riddance.

She'd stopped in the hall, finishing her lipstick, accurate even without a mirror. "What for?"

"It's a project I've been thinking about," he said, grinding. "I need time to concentrate." Casual, like it was nothing.

And she'd stared, trying to understand what he was really saying. They'd never been separated, not even when they fought. "Since when do I bother you when you're working?"

"I thought you'd be glad that I'm working at all," he said. She was glad, but why would he think he had to leave?

He kept cranking the brass arm of the mill, standing in the kitchen doorway in his baggy jeans and bare feet with their long Greek toes. "I need the space, Josie. Try to understand."

"But you always painted fine here." It was true, the shack was small. It was hard for him to paint anything even the size of the blind Merediths. And his mother's house was standing there, empty, up on the hill. "What if I come with you?"

He set the grinder down then and put his arms around her, tight. Kissed her. "I'll be working. You know how I get. Trust me, it's better this way." She held on to him, her eyes closed, drinking in his smell, pine and moss and some peculiar chemistry of his own, that she craved the way an addict craved freebase. She could lick him like candy. He held her for the longest time, crushing her to him, his scratchy beard.

She missed him like fire. She threw the mail in the bowl on the orange footlocker where the phone sat silent. She 'd called him twice already, but he hadn't answered-he'd never answered a phone as long as she 'd known him. But if he didn't come home soon, she was going up there, she didn't care how much he needed his space. Screw that. Three days was one thing, but a week was a separation. She'd barely managed to stay away this long, doing her best to keep busy-book extra sittings, going with Pen to see the Weirdos at the Hong Kong Café, a party on Carondelet. Maybe it looked like she was living it up, but all she was doing was waiting for him. What was he painting that he couldn't paint here? Or was he just dumping her? "Hey, fuck him and his brother too," Pen had said when she'd worried aloud at the Weirdos show. "This is great, just like the old days. Carpe fucking diem."

It felt strange to be alone in the little house, in the tranquillity of the afternoon. This was the first time she'd ever lived alone. She straightened the pillows on the couch, looked through the mail, put on the Clash, Sandinista!, sat down and got up. She couldn't settle anywhere. The house seemed so empty, her presence didn't alter its emptiness. At home in Bakersfield, she'd shared a room with Luanne and Corrine, and on Carondelet, she'd lived with Pen and Shirley and Paul. Later in the Fuckhouse, it was half of punk Hollywood. Now she was alone, her only company the paintings and drawings he'd done, furniture they'd salvaged, collections they'd accumulated, toys and hats and flatirons. Without him, it took on the quality of a stage set where the actors hadn't yet come on. She sat on the blue couch and leafed through an art magazine. A man making paintings using smashed plates. They'd seen his show at the county art museum. She'd liked the big, heavy-textured works better than Michael had, their confidence, their bold beauty. "Shtick," he'd said. "Ya gotta have a gimmick." Always so critical, he hated everything artists were doing now. He only liked Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud, who painted like bloodhounds on the scent of human imperfection. And his beloved Schiele.

Why couldn't he sleep here and paint there? Other artists had studios. If it was too small for him, he could at least come home at night. She was afraid it was just an excuse. That he 'd decided, finally, he didn't want to be with her anymore. She yearned to call him, but hated the sound of the phone ringing, ringing, knowing that he might be standing right there, not picking up, knowing it was her.

She sat in his chair by the window, overlooking the hills, Echo Park, Silverlake, and beyond: the Hollywood sign, Griffith Park. The observatory's green copper domes stood out perfectly clear against the pale blue winter sky. She loved to sit in this chair with him, her arms around his neck, drinking his smell. She pressed her face to the waffled coarseness of the chair back, trying to smell it, her eyelashes fluttering against the skin of her cheek. Catching then losing it. Still stoned from the Spider, she shuffled back into the kitchen, drank a glass of milk standing up at the sink, peeled a finger-sized banana. She tried not to look at the wooden breakfast nook with its cutout hearts, where they ate their meals, and the painting that hung there, her at the old stove, light from the kitchen window pouring over her. When he was the one who did all the cooking. She couldn't do more than heat soup from a can.

She went into the bedroom and lay on the bed, the fragrant linens that still smelled of their last lovemaking, their painting of Montmartre on all the four walls. She kicked off her shoes and crawled under the covers, white on white in the colorless light. It was almost Christmas. She needed to finish making his shirt, with the stripes cut horizontally, to make it unusual. Green to match his eyes. Maybe she would find him some sheet music at one of those little places on Hollywood Boulevard, dirty Twenties blues, all new jelly roll and cakewalking babies from home. She could decorate the house in paper snowflakes, hang them from the ceiling, thick as leaves. How surprised he'd be when he came through the door and saw them. Of course he'd be back. Just another day or two.

She was thinking about snowflakes when the phone rang in the living room. Flinging herself out of bed so fast her head reeled, she got to the phone and grabbed it before the third ring. "Michael, thank God, I-"

"Excuse me, this is Inspector Brooks ..." Some government fuckhead.

"I'm from the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office. To whom am I speaking, please?"

Fuck. Luanne. The crank. The last time she'd seen her sister, she'd been down to ninety pounds. Though it could be Jimmy. Tommy. Any of them. "This is Josephine Tyrell. What happened?" "Your phone number was found on a motel registration. We're in the process of running fingerprints, but tell me, has there been someone missing?"

"I don't think so," she said. She heard the shuffling of papers. "White male. Registered as Oscar Wilde."

All she heard was the roar of blood in her ears.

"Miss Tyrell?" She could barely hold the phone. All the strength had gone out of her arms.

"Do you have any idea who this person might be?" said the voice on the other end, as if nothing had changed.

"Yes," she said. "No." She sat down on the furry couch before she fell. "I don't ..."

"This person you're thinking of, how old is he?" She searched for her voice. "Twenty-two." "Height?"

"About six feet," she whispered. "Weight?"

She didn't know his weight. They'd never had a scale. "Skinny." "Eye color?"

"Green." Please, let him say brown. "Scars or tattoos?"

She thought of his body. She ran her mind over it like fingers. "A scar, on his right hand. Between the thumb and first finger." She rubbed her face, trying not to drop the phone, trying to listen through the roaring static in her head. "A mole, on the right side of his rib cage." An artist's model, her body memory never failed. It worked independently of her mind, which had shut off. It couldn't be. This was a Tyrell call, speed contest, stabbing, shoot-out. An OD at the Fuckhouse.

There was a pause. "Is there someone who can come with you? We'll need to see you downtown."

Josie stood on the sidewalk holding herself together with both arms, as if her guts would spill out onto the concrete if she let go, watching for Pen's red Impala. Her friend slammed to a stop in front of the house, her purple hair a flag in that old convertible. She threw open the side door. "I got here as fast as I could. Oh, Josie, don't think anything yet. It could be anyone."

She was still closing the door as Pen peeled out. It was deep into rush hour. They skipped the freeway and took Riverside Drive, the back way along the river, past the Brewery where she 'd just modeled for Tim Delauney the week before last. Don't think anything. It could be anyone. She hoped it fucking was. Anyone else.

Macy to Mission, the foot of the concrete mountain that was LA County General. The coroner's office wasn't up at the hospital, it was down at the bottom, with the trucks and light industrial, a boxy two-story government building, the lettering painted right on the side of the building, LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CORONER, medical examiner, forensic laboratories, public services.

Pen left the Impala parked sideways across two spaces and they dashed into the foyer, all brown marble and beige linoleum and patched acoustic ceiling, like the lobby in a building full of cheap dentists. At the counter, a heavy black woman looked them up and down, Pen's purple hair and black lipstick, Josie's punked-out bleach job, her yellow fake fur. Like they were a sideshow act.


Excerpted from Paint It Black by Janet Fitch Copyright © 2006 by Janet Fitch. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Paint It Black 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 105 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.

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!

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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like it...
LukeS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Paint it Black" is Janet Fitch's powerful and compassionate novel of two women trying to get on with their lives in the wake of young Michael Faraday's suicide. Their shared lives and the ultimate divergence of their approaches to Michael's end make up the story.Josie, the innocent from Bakersfield, is the lover Michael leaves behind, and our main protaganist. Her mix of internal dialog, recollection, and drug-addled guilt and grief make up much of the story. Ms. Fitch's handling of all this shows her great strength. She lets Josie's lament play itself fully out, believably, slowly, doggedly. In someone else's hands, this would not even have been published, but it's sustained and evolving, and true to life in Ms. Fitch's balanced and inevitable-seeming prose.We also meet Meredith, Michael's aggrieved mother, a world-class classical pianist, who is outraged at Michael's leaving Harvard and falling in with Josie in L.A., little more than a runaway punk from Bakersfield. Meredith is at first quiet hostile toward Josie, but she comes to depend on her and to cling to her as a last remnant of her departed son. She opens her home to Josie when she needs it most, and eventually invites Josie to come to Europe with her on her concert tour. Before she consents to first-class travel and five-star accommodation, though, Josie feels the need to travel to the motel on the edge of nowhere where Michael killed himself. She finds answers there, at the motel ironically called "Paradise," and another young woman who knew Michael only long enough to fall in love with him, and who is also deeply afflicted by Michael's death. This difference between Meredith and Josie shows in high relief: Meredith wants to run to Europe, with its adoring crowds and flattering men, while Josie wants to follow Michael's path as far is it goes - she owes him that. And there she finds this other girl, with less Michael-history than her own, and opens up her home and the the opportunities of Los Angeles to her. Meredith runs, wanting to get away; Josie runs too, but toward the calamity, and eventually finds the answers to urgent questions.This is compelling, life-affirming stuff. I admire Ms. Fitch's skill with a tricky subject. I'm very glad I picked this up, and I'm sure you will be, too.
melydia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(unabridged audiobook read by Jen Taylor): The story opens with Josie Tyrell waiting for her artist boyfriend Michael, who left a week before to hole up in his mother's empty house and work on a painting. Just as she is beginning to wonder if he'd run off with another woman, the coroner calls. Michael was not at his mother's house, not working on a painting at all. In reality, he had driven to a motel and shot himself. From then on out it is nonstop grief. This is a book I'm not sure I would have enjoyed on paper, but Taylor's narration is absolutely brilliant. She captures the confusion, anger, and despair of Josie and Michael's mother Meredith, as well as the mystery of Michael himself (in flashbacks), without ever sounding melodramatic or tiresome. Without her touch, I'm not sure I would have been able to stand such endless misery. But it's only the subject matter that would be difficult to read. Fitch, as always, uses language like a paintbrush. The writing is simply beautiful, even when describing ugly things. Her unabashed love for poetry and art is present again here, as it was in White Oleander; likewise with the independent daughter/powerful mother dynamic. But the story is far from a repeat. And while I enjoyed it, I would have appreciated a little more plot - this was more of a slice-of-life story about Josie going through the stages of grief than a series of interelated events. I also wish the ending had been a touch more conclusive, but in a way the openness gave it more of a feeling of real life, where nothing ever ends. Quibbles aside, I was really touched by this book. Josie and Michael and Meredith and everyone were like real people whose lives I wanted to know more about. I will definitely be on the lookout for more books by Fitch.
Hamamelidaceae on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Janet Fitch is an excellent author in a specialized arena. Part of her gift is in regaling, darker emotions and impetuosity. I've yet to decide whether it is by a scary coincidence or direct complement that her other writing forté is on female relationships and the feminine psyche involved.Her characters primarily consist of two women characters. One is a young flower that will spiral out of control due to unrelenting misfortune. The air is bitter and there is another woman, a maternal character interacting as a major source of conflict. In "Paint it Black," the young woman is a white trash nobody turned poor model who finds Mr. Perfect. Unfortunately, her rich, handsome, genius boyfriend kills himself. Alone and in despair, she has nothing to cling to except for his deranged mother. The result is an interesting dynamic where they spitefully realize that they keep each other afloat. My major dilemma with Janet Fitch is that after reading both "Paint it Black" and "White Oleander," I cannot tell them apart. The plots are the same. The characters are the same. My personal suggestion would to read one or the other aforementioned novels.Nonetheless, Janet Fitch reinvented the satanic maternal figure with poignant clarity. This is not a story that takes you simply from Point A to Point B. Instead, you experience a myriad of emotion and landscapes alongside the characters. Pick one title and do read a Janet Fitch novel.
drea3132 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Felt like it took me forever to read! Looonnngg, overwritten, & confusing.I didn't know how to tell memories from fantasies from nightmares to present. Had to re-read a few times. There were many inside jokes and saying's often repeated throughout the book. Like Ming I don't know what that is? LOL Did I miss something?And..did Josie really kill that dog?Ehh, strange.
Alera on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've never read grief so raw, so harsh, and so true. Every fear, every hate, every guilt, every rage...this book takes you through it all. The story itself was inconsequential. What mattered, and what will stick with me, is the emotion. It was dark. It was depressing. It was haunting. And yet at the very end, there was a spark, a chance. The end of zero and the beginning of one. Which is as real as it gets.
whimsyblue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A beautiful little pill.
porchsitter55 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This dark tale of grief, love and loss was so engrossing from start to finish, I stayed up all night to finish it. The main character is Josie, a lost soul in a harsh world who learns in the opening pages that her boyfriend has committed suicide while away, supposedly on a trip to his mother's house. Michael, whom Josie was deeply in love with, was a sensitive, gifted artist, but had begun pulling away from Josie in those last weeks of his life.Josie is devastated and sinks into a deep depression as she tries to understand what happened, what she could have done to make a difference, and how Michael could have abandoned their love to go off and kill himself.As the story goes on, Josie comes face to face (at the funeral) with Michael's equally devastated mother, who immediately lashes out at Josie, whom she considers to be poor white trash, blaming her for the demise of her only son. Thus begins a up and down relationship between the mother, Meredith, who is a world renowned concert pianist and Josie, the waif who is an art model who lives on the fringes of society.The extreme depth of Josie's grief pours out in this dark novel...I felt Josie's confusion, her desperation, her agony of loss. The author conveyed Josie's pain very well. As Josie interacts with Meredith, things begin to come out about the mother's relationship with Michael, a secret that Josie realizes could be the reason for this tragic outcome. Josie accuses Meredith of incest, but never really knows for sure if it indeed did happen. As she recounts Michael's references to his mother in the days before his death, she feels strongly that whatever transpired between Michael and his mother must have played a big part in Michael's decision to end his life.Meredith is a famous pianist who has lived a charmed life, but begins to seek out Josie in order to learn more about this street girl who her son was so enamored by.....she holds Josie in contempt for causing her son to drop out of college in his senior year, even though Michael denied that Josie had anything to do with it.Closer to the end of the book, Josie recounts a specific episode between she and Michael when she verbally attacks him out of frustration over his lack of communication in those last weeks, when he was growing more distraught....Josie did not understand what to do so she lashed out and said some very hurtful things....and as she relives this terrible moment in time, the crushing guilt causes Josie to consider whether she should end her own life as well, due to her inability to come to terms with everything that has transpired in her young life, along with feeling so alone in the world now that Michael has gone.The ending was a bit abrupt and there was alot of foul language, but overall the book was absolutely outstanding. The book was incredibly emotionally powerful and I was absorbed from page one. While not everyone's cup of tea, this one earned a high mark from this reader. I would love to read more by this author.
ntempest on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in Los Angeles during the punk rock scene of the 1980s, this novel features Josie Tyrell, a white-trash runaway who makes ends meet by working as an artist's model and occasional actress in student films. She begins dating and living with Michael Faraday, an aspiring artist who turns out to be the son of famous concert pianist Meredith Loewy and writer Calvin Faraday. When Michael commits suicide, Josie and Meredith are drawn together despite their obvious dislike of each other and their very different world views, each attempting to hold onto their version of Michael and to understand what prompted him to take his life. The book is filled with sex and drugs and shows how grief affects people in different ways. Very dark and vivid writing, but difficult going from an emotional standpoint and neither Josie nor Meredith is a particularly likable or sympathetic character.
sunfi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was a bit confused by some of the "punk" ideas and scene since that wasn't an area that I was ever exposed to or around. Reading more about the book now, after having read the book, certain things start to make a little more sense, knowing that the story is set in the 1980's, some story elements fall into place. However, it's not that I didn't care for the book but quite the opposite. I don't think I have ever read a book that described loss and grief in a way that touched me quite like this one did. I understand that the elements of creativity and death at times are so interwoven that it is difficult to separate the two. Add to the mix a story that is one part emotional thriller and one part psychological fiction and you have this story; while parts of it were difficult for me to stomach not physically but emotionally.
CityLove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is so very intense. Ms. Fitch does an eerlily incredible job at pulling you so far into the character's pain that it causes you to become depressed. I am not even done reading this novel but the way it's written, it can't possibly go wrong. Al though I do questin where this is all going. This haunting novel is beautifully written.
arelenriel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
fitch's second effort is almost as good as her first, shaky on the history of the 80's in spots but good.
WittyreaderLI on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really started to like this book, as gritty as it was, but for some reason, I read a review on here that complained about there being too much detail and I scoffed. Too much detail?! Yeah right! But sadly, around page 200, I got caught up in the fact that there was too much detail, not enough action, to the point where the words bogged me down from caring to finish the rest of this book! I remember I enjoyed White Oleander but that was a completely different type of book. Oh!
Cigani on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fitch's follow-up to White Oleander blew me away. I found the characters complex, yet realistic, and her voice throughout the novel was creatively strong. With some books, White Oleander included, I find myself zoning out through paragraphs or even pages! But with Paint it Black, I was engrossed the entire time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little slow, but good overall
osaka More than 1 year ago
Not as good as White Oleander. This book was not a feel good book, quite dark. Characters were very well developed, however, the story was a little slow.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ellonkah More than 1 year ago
Rough-around-the-edges Josie Tyrell loses the love of her life, and what follows are pages and pages…and then some more pages, of Josie trying to understand the tragedy and reclaim her life.  In the 418-page book that I read, I would estimate that there are less than 40 pages of things actually happening, including conversation. The writing is brilliant, and Fitch certainly has a way with words, but there was just too much introspection in this book to keep me interested. Credit to the author for being able to describe Josie’s emotional tar pit so vividly for such a large part of this novel, but after a bit I was left yearning for something to happen.  White Oleander is one of the best books that I have ever read. If, like me, reading that book makes you want to read this book, I caution you:  the only thing these two books have in common is the writing style. You could love this book - you could get sucked in to Josie’s mind and her struggles; you could be enchanted by the dirty punk scene; you could feel with Josie. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t, as much as I worked at it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is no holding back the raw emotions of death of those left behind. Wonderfully written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.