The Color Master


Bender, Aimee

Book - 2013
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Color Master
A traumatic event unfolds when a girl with flowing hair of golden wheat appears in an apple orchard, where a group of people await her. A woman plays out a prostitution fantasy with her husband and finds she cannot go back to her old sex life. An ugly woman marries an ogre and struggles to decide if she should stay with him after he mistakenly eats their children. Two sisters travel deep into Malaysia, where one learns the art of mending tigers who have been ripped to shreds.

Publisher: New York :, Doubleday,, [2013]
Edition: First Edition.
Copyright Date: ♭ 2013
ISBN: 0385534892
Characteristics: 222 pages ;,22 cm


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Sep 16, 2013

This volume of short stories features weird and wonderful characters pursuing connections in extraordinary ways (and sometimes failing). Surreal events (like the sewing together of tigers or the creation of a dress the color of the moon) punctuate many of the tales, though not all of them -- one tells the very realistic story of a woman who fulfills her husband's fantasy and then finds she can't quite let go of it. Many reviewers describe these stories as "fairy tales," but while some are whimsical, they're also dark and melancholy, like the best fairy tales for adults. Versatile and distinctive, this is a collection to be savored.

Sep 14, 2013
  • biki576 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I'll be honest, I liked Beautiful Creatures more as a whole. But this collection still had some amazing five star stories in it that made it well worth reading. I'm a big fan of Aimee Bender and her short stories, which always have an otherworldly feel (even when she's not telling a story about ogres or magic clothing makers). It didn't quite live up to my expectations, but I loved a few of the stories enough that I'll probably be buying myself a copy soon.

Sep 02, 2013

I've read a few comments like this lately, which seem to be written by a professional who is pushing the book. Always four or five stars, with descriptions that don't seem to be from our usual well-read and intelligent commenters who write without the flowery prose. This book got a good review in the Toronto Star, and I'm interested in reading it, but this description was so over the top that it puts me off. What's up?

Aug 21, 2013
  • ksoles rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

In her most recent collection, Aimee Bender explores the undulations, oddities and surrealisms that define both loneliness and companionship. The fifteen stories share similar themes, symbols and character types but diverge in setting and particulars. Most read like modern folk tales, featuring obvious or subtle magic, and all emerge as compelling, provocative tales.

Bender's opening 2-page story portrays a dark scene that poses a relevant questions for the entire book: do we exist in fantasy or reality? Symbol or solidity? Later, the reader meets two sisters who travel to Asia to heal skinless tigers. The title story features characters stitching clothing in the colours of the sun, moon and sky, indicating uncertainty and transformation. An ogre's wife mourns the loss of her children and a family inexplicably begins to find extra objects around the house. As "The Colour Master" blurs the line between mundane and fantastic, elements of real life weave with shimmering glimpses of an unknowable exterior world.

Bender also highlights emotional isolation and awkwardness. A college-age woman spends a strange evening with an elderly man, a boy cannot or will not see the faces of the people around him, a teenage girl at the mall with her friends acts like a social and temperamental outlier and a man keeps losing the "words of things," remaining incapable of committing to a relationship with a woman he truly likes.

One could certainly read this collection in one sitting thanks to its brisk pace and straightforward style. However, each story deserves to be mulled over, unpacked and contemplated in order to appreciate the complexity of the author's ideas.


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