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The Color Master: Stories

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  1,489 ratings  ·  320 reviews
The bestselling author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake returns with a wondrous collection of dreamy, strange, and magical stories.

Truly beloved by readers and critics alike, Aimee Bender has become known as something of an enchantress whose lush prose is “moving, fanciful, and gorgeously strange” (People), “richly imagined and bittersweet” (Vanity Fair), and “full
Hardcover, 222 pages
Published August 13th 2013 by Doubleday (first published 2013)
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baby's first (aimee) bender!!

and now i see what all the fuss is about. she has a real flair for the fantastic, for the magical fairytale quickstep where suddenly a story about apples becomes a story about sexual assault. it's dream-logic perfection.

like all good fairytales, the magical elements are just glossing over those painful universal realities we don't like to examine too closely: the sorrow of a couple ruining themselves, the unwillingness to look too closely at our loved ones, the lies
My fellow go to reviewers were so split on Ms. Bender's book The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake that I was having trouble deciding whether to take the plunge and give it a try. Imagine my delight when I won a copy of The Color Master her collection of short stories. I thought that this would entice me to go further.

As much as I wanted to "get" her writing and embrace just wasn't there for me. I loved her lyrical prose, and the build up she delivers., the promise of a wonderful stor
Thanks to Goodreads and Vintage/Anchor Books for the review copy.

This was so unbelievably better than I expected. Each story stands alone as a unique gem and there are absolutely no missteps.

Imagine being blindfolded, put on a plane and told you were going somewhere you’ll never guess. That’s the world these stories live in. Almost every sentence is a blind step into the unknown. I was amazed at the unpredictability of each moment and the sheer guts and freedom Bender uses to create her worlds
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I've loved Aimee Bender's short stories for years, including The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories and Willful Creatures. I keep meaning to read her novels, and will get to them someday, but her stories are often just so beautiful and sad and magical... this volume is no different, and I enjoyed it very much.

A few of my favorites:

The Red Ribbon - about a couple, with a very sad ending. Wow.
I also loved the line "Her body was made up of the wrong chickens."

Wordkseepers - I guess you just shoul
I liked The Color Master better than the only other collection by Aimee Bender that I've read, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, but only slightly. It's an interesting comparison - her first collection posed along with the most recent - but it also yields an interesting result: my opinion on the two books is pretty much identical.

While I do appreciate Aimee Bender's flair for surreal imagery and ideas, what trouble me is the common thread which runs through her work - the lack of actual stories.
Whew! A breath of fresh air. I've been on a bad streak as of late. I've been forcing myself to get through novels. With one of them, I got so frustrated that I just threw the novel against my dresser with 10 percent left to go. "That's it," I thought to myself. "I don't need to know any more about these dreadful people." These books have all been written exceedingly well. All that style. Zippo heart. Contemporary fiction tends to have a problem with assuming that humanity is the same as sentimen ...more
Hooray hooray for a new Bender! I may have failed at getting a proof of MaddAddam, but I got this beauty in my hot little hands, which is good consolation.

And it's good, it is; but that's trickerous, because truly, there are only a few standouts ("The Color Master," "Devourings"), but they are so spectacular that they cancel out the rest. So when I think about this book I will remember a cake that keeps regenerating itself, shaved opals the exact color of the moon, a woman who marries an ogre, a
Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship
The past few days, which are months in reader-not-reading time, I'd had real trouble getting into books that I'd normally like. Some were too dramatic, others too romantic. Prose too simple, too florid. And then I happened across this anthology, the cover of which had me seduced me in, the title that exorcised my doubts and the stories, writing that captivate me beyond those pages, and will continue to haunt me.

Bender writes in the simplest, non-fussy words that somehow, in their arrangement, tu
These stories exemplify the now classic structure of contemporary literary fiction: great waves of prose that crest in moments of pure poetry, built on symbolism, introspection, and, above all, angst. Bender re-imagines her own existential crises as outside events, and whether the story features ogres, high school girls, or sex, an overwhelming feeling remains that this is about the author's life. My two favorite stories were Lemonade, about the aforementioned high school girls, where the angst ...more
Matt Stalbaum
It pains me to give an Aimee Bender collection only 3 stars out of 5, but that's where her new collection has left me. Like Karen Russell's latest collection, The Color Master draws the distinction of showing a new direction in Bender's writing, an effort to deviate slightly from the stories that she's known for and try new things. And like Karen Russell's latest collection, I don't think Bender quite succeeds as well as she hoped.

The best stories here are, unfortunately, stories that prolific s
Diane S.
Bender is a very interesting writer with a wonderful imagination. Surprisingly, because I tend to associate her with magical realism, not all these stories had magical realism ion them. Of course many of them did. My favorites were the title story, The Colormaster and The wordkeepers, but the story I liked best was the one with the tigers, and I have no idea why. There was really only one story in this collection that I did not like and I won't tell you which one that was.

A good collection of st
If you've never read an Aimee Bender book, you may now pause and enjoy that wonderful sense of relief that comes over you whenever you discover a new writer and realize that she's got four or five books out and probably many more to come and you have not, as you'd feared, run out of good books to read after all.

The Color Master is probably her best book yet. It has a delightfully trippy fairy-tale vibe that will transport you to some dreamy world you won't want to leave--although you'll feel va
I almost forgot how wonderful Aimee's stories are. My faves here: Appleless, The Red Ribbon, Lemonade, and America.
I am not a short story fan. I really dislike becoming emotionally involved with characters and then letting them go (usually in obscurity) after 40 pages. Uh-uh. Give me a novel any day. That said, Aimee Bender does not write short stories, but dreams and I love them. She makes me question things I never thought to question before, and plants ideas in my head. How important, really, are faces? What will be the impact of a culture that is losing its words? I didn't know I cared about these things ...more
A wonderful way to begin my 2014 reading, Aimee Bender's collection of stories satisfied all my desires. Powerful, dark, magical, engaging and filled with unforgettable images.

Not surprisingly, I was most moved by the stories containing magical realism, especially "The Color Master," "The Devourings," and "Appleless." Bender has an amazing ability to immerse readers in an alternate universe while making it seem all too real. These stories touch me emotionally and their "truths" are more real to
Rhiannon Johnson
"In this collection, Bender’s unique talents sparkle brilliantly in stories about people searching for connection through love, sex, and family—while navigating the often painful realities of their lives. 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 deci ...more
I never thought Aimee Bender would be for me, but I guess we learn something new and surprising everyday.

Every story in this collection somehow manages to be dreamily surreal and steeped in reality at the same time. Even when we're talking ogres and princesses, Bender's writing is so full of emotion and concreteness that her stories feel more realistic, more human than most.
Her writing and imagery are absolutely beautiful, and for once in my life I was so engrossed by a short story collection th
This collection was kind of hot and cold for me, but when it was good, it was great. I loved the Tiger Mending story, about the wounded tigers and the skilled sewers who sew their stripes back together. I loved the title story, about mixing colors to make a dress of the sky/sun/moon, etc. I loved The Devourings, about the human woman who married and ogre, had six children and lost them all. bender has a certain gift for strangeness, and there are definitely moments here where she achieves greatn ...more
I am not very good at writing about short story collections, but this was pretty fantastic. I was wary of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake because it sounded a little too gimmicky for my tastes, but the buzz surrounding this collection is hard to ignore. It's also well-deserved. These stories are tinged with magical realism and overflowing with beautiful sentences and thoughtful observations. Highly recommended.
Rachel Watkins
I've been a loyal Aimee Bender reader for YEARS and YEARS. This new collection of short stories has it all: beautiful prose, bizarre ideas, deep storytelling, and edgy themes. Each story is so entirely different, you'll want to savor them and pause between readings.
Maybe it is because I'm use to sitting down and reading/listening to a complete book but several of the short stories lacked any type of ending which threw me off. I know she was touching on topics that are ... I don't want to say taboo but have more of a darkness to them, but I was left wanting more information on the story instead of feeling abandoned by the author.
Her writing style is brilliant and I love several of the "topics" hidden behind the stories but again, the incomplete feeling I ha
Kelly Woodward
Perhaps my biggest guilty pleasure (other than playing Candy Crush on my phone, or the fact that my favorite band is Hanson) is marzipan. I don’t know what it is, but I could eat that doughy, gritty, almondy sweetness for days. I have a friend who knows this and buys me a box of marzipan for every major life event: birthdays, my wedding, even my baby shower. Here’s the problem with me and marzipan: whenever I have it, I feel this overwhelming compulsion to eat it ALL. I actually have to take out ...more
I'm a huge Aimee Bender fan, so it saddens me to admit I was disappointed with her new collection. "On a Saturday Afternoon" was great, but the rest of them were too surface-level and cookie cut-out for me. It's like she has her own formula or template and is filling it in again and again. The playful irony, something I enjoyed in her other collections, detracts from any depth or emotional power the stories might have otherwise had. Her final lines, which seem intended to resonate with the stori ...more
Vincent Scarpa
Oh, Aimee Bender. You frustrate me and delight me in almost equal parts. This is another collection like "Willful Creatures," wherein I *love* about a third of the stories, and find the rest to be unsatisfying, or else boring, or else meaningless, or else not fully realized, or else incredibly thin. The pattern, at least in my consumption of Bender's work—and I've now read all three collections and Lemon Cake—is that I seem to love those stories wherein there's not much of her signature magic at ...more
Aimee Bender writes fairy tales for grown ups.

If there is a genre in adult fiction which I love, it's magical realism, and I think Bender is at the top of the class. These short stories are glimpses into worlds so different from our own and yet completely, utterly our own. They are all very sad and very aching. As soon as one ends, it lingers in your chest. These are heavy, meaty stories, even though they feel as though they are not. They are about loss and loneliness, about death and never con
Since I first saw one of her stories in a journal, I’ve been hooked on Aimee Bender. Her twist on magical realism – deeply American, usually urban, and frequently from a child’s perspective – marked her from the beginning as a writer to watch. There was also the terse elegance of her prose and the unpretentious way it evoked but never aped Kafka’s style. In the years since that first encounter, Bender has continued to grow as a writer even as she’s continued to demonstrate that beguiling mastery ...more
Lynne Perednia
Magic realism is a tricky thing. Go too far in one direction and the result can be either fantasy or an inability to keep that disbelief suspended. Go too far the other way and the result can be so close to the real world that the reaction is: Why bother?

Aimee Bender, like two characters in the title story of this collection, knows how to mix the ingredients together just right.

Her stories are filled with yearning. Some characters do outrageous things, daring themselves to push past acceptable b
This is really more like a 3.5. I am becoming more and more confirmed that short stories are just not a medium that connect with me. In theory, the idea of the short story is very appealing to me, much as sketchwork is, so I'm not sure why I am so often completely unsatisfied reading them. This collection did better than many have -- they are odd and unique. Two of them really seemed to achieve a moment ("The Color Master" and "A State of Variance") for reasons I can't put my finger on. But, mos ...more
I don't get this sense often, of feeling like I'm actually watching someone make contact with and define emotional states that don't yet have names, but that's the sense I got here. Plus the originality of thought throughout. Really amazing.
What can I say? I loved it. Aimee Bender's writing is beautiful, and I love her imagination. Her characters teeter on the edge of reality, but are deeply human. My favorite, the title story, expands on the fairy tale of the woman wtih these spectacular dresses, something that I have wanted someone to expand upon. There is also a woman who can't enjoy sex unless her husband pays for it. another who marries an ogre, a boy with "face blindness," and a teenage girl who is certain that if she smiles ...more
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Good Housekeeping Excerpt 2 15 Oct 06, 2013 05:21AM  
  • A Guide to Being Born: Stories
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  • I Want to Show You More
  • What I Didn't See: Stories
  • Leaving the Sea: Stories
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  • Tunneling to the Center of the Earth: Stories
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  • Dark Lies the Island
  • Byzantium: Stories
  • Monstress
  • The Fun Parts
  • The Wilds
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Aimee Bender is the author of the novel An Invisible Sign of My Own and of the collections The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and Willful Creatures. Her work has been widely anthologized and has been translated into ten languages. She lives in Los Angeles.
More about Aimee Bender...
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake The Girl in the Flammable Skirt Willful Creatures An Invisible Sign of My Own Tin House: Fantastic Women

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“It is so often surprising, who rescues you at your lowest moments.” 13 likes
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