Published in August 2013 by Doubleday
Source: Public Library
Andi, Andi, Andi. Remember when I saw The Color Master on NetGalley and had to tell you about it? Then you read it before me but didn’t love it? Yeah, me too.
Here’s the thing, Aimee Bender’s stories are often fantastical and strange and yet beautiful. Her previous novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, about a young girl trying to come to terms with her strange gift in a dysfunctional family, was beautiful and strange but also felt true. So the decision to read The Color Master was a no-brainer.
The Color Master ended up being an uneven collection of stories that I didn’t bother to finish. There were tales that were amazing and only Bender could have wrote. There were others that were regular and didn’t belong at all.
The book’s highlights:
“The Color Master” – This story is so simple and beautiful and just lovely. Bender takes inspiration from the fairy tale “Donkeyskin” to write a story about the color master who was able to make a dress the color of the moon. This story alone is worth the time it takes to put this book on hold at your local library, pick it up, take it home, and read. It’s that amazing. I photocopied this tale just so I can read it again and again and figure out how the author wrote it.
“The Red Ribbon” is the tale of a woman in a loveless marriage. Or rather, she doesn’t love her husband enough. The story doesn’t really fit the collection but it‘s humorous.
“Tiger Mending” – The story of two sisters, one a misfit and the other who does everything perfectly, as they travel to Malaysia to help mend tigers after they have been ripped to shreds.
“The Devouring” – You can also find this in Kate Bernheimer’s awesome short story anthology, XO Orpheus. A human woman marries an ogre who accidentally eats their children. What happens next is a reflective journey that includes a cake that refills itself and an invisibility cloak.
Since I didn’t finish this collection, I’m not going to rate it. Overall, I thought this collection was uneven and disappointing. As magical as the highlighted stories are, they can’t make up for the duds. I still plan on reading anything else Bender publishes.
My favorite line from the story, “The Devouring”:
…Loss did not pass from one person to another like a baton; it just formed a bigger and bigger pool of carriers. And, she thought, scratching the coarseness of the horse’s mane, it did not leave once lodged, did it, simply changed form and asked repeatedly for attention and care, as each year revealed a new knot to cry out and consider-smaller, sure, but never gone.