Paint It Black
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Paint It Black

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3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  7,436 ratings  ·  866 reviews
"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...more
Published (first published 2006)
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Amy
I guess that, in light of so many boo's and hissses, I must somehow make an apology for my 5 stars. I don't care about the story. Janet Fitch could write the evening news and I would read it. Maybe the story fell somewhat flat, maybe Josie was a little predictable, but most stories are this way & as I said before, I could care less. The use of language is so very poignant. I would read a paragraph, a chapter if I could, and stop...letting the words saturate, find their mark and, time and aga...more
Sara
Jan 15, 2008 Sara rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: White Oleander fans, L.A. scenesters
I don't care how un-rock n' roll it is to like something Oprah endorsed, White Oleander is one of my favorite books of all time. since I first read it several years ago I'd been waiting and waiting for Janet Fitch to come out with another novel. the concept for Paint It Black excited me, but in the end I wish it was way better.

Fitch clearly saw what worked for her with White Oleander and chose to repeat it. Los Angeles is a character in itself in her novels, and her lyrical, description-heavy pr...more
John
Jun 08, 2007 John rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Both those who hate and those who love Oprah
Many students of great literature will never touch Paint It Black, largely due to the lazy assumption that the work of any author singled out by Oprah’s Book Club best belongs in the hands of mawkish stay-at-home mothers. Fitch’s second novel is not sentimental. An artist’s suicide marks the start of the narrative, and it is refreshing how skillfully Fitch handles the tragedy. It is never treated romantically as so much art obfuscates the plain fact that death is a cold period, not an exclamati...more
Janet
May 05, 2011 Janet rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
thought it was about time to add Paint it Black to my books... I have read it, a few times!
Still like it. The aftermath of a suicide in 1980 punk rock LA, picks up all my favorite obsessions: the artist's struggle, the war between permission and perfection in creative life, California and Los Angeles history, a young woman's search for the authentic self, the music of language, the vulnerability of soulful people in a materialistic world--and the poisonous effect of a narcissistic parent on a se...more
Toni
Nov 25, 2007 Toni rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teenagers, lame punk rockers
Shelves: fiction
At times the writing was lyrical. Fitch showed every aspect I admire in an author, but then it just all went to hell. Josie is worse than an ordinary narrator, she is the very definition of counter-culture. Cheap references to punk rock and substances will get you nowhere, when it comes to keeping the attention of a readers. I hate it when authors mention things casually to try and make themselves and the character seem cold, or in some way used to the ways of the world. The use of the word "Bar...more
Kim
This book is incredibly powerful...but also incredibly painful to read. It follows the story of Josie Tyrell, a young woman growing up in the late 70s/early 80s and a punk model who falls in love with the intelligent, brooding (you know the type) Michael Faraday, who ends up committing suicide. The book details Josie's process of grief, and how it interacts with Meredith's, Michael's mother's process as well. The detail is incredible and takes you through everything; love, the shame and darkness...more
K
I give up. I can't finish this book. I struggled for 175 pages, but I just can't do it any more. I expected much more from the author of "White Oleander," especially with reviewers calling it a "page-turner" (Elle Magazine, did we read the same book?) and positive quotes from The Atlantic Monthly, of all things. This reminded me of "Intuition" but much worse, in the sense that the sporadic dialogue and action are interspersed with lengthy descriptive paragraphs about the main character's inner l...more
Katelyn
Jan 12, 2008 Katelyn rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to reminisce about "the scene"
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jac
I am somewhere between 'abosultely hated it' and 'liked parts of it'. Of the many characters in this book, the already dead boyfriend and his mother are the only strong characters although they are still slightly cartoonish.
The things that made this book awful are the the constant similies - Fitch couldn't describe anything without comparing it to something else. It distracted me from the story and actually made me angry. Also, I felt the language used to show how Josie was low-class and 'count...more
Kristine
uggh. i loved janet fitch's WHITE OLEANDER, and now i am doubting whether my memory actually serves me right. this book is so poorly-written: 400 pages of little more than melodrama, unrealistic scenes, lame dialogue, and unresolved problems. and the sentences themselves infuriate me. here is an example of what i think fitch meant to be a powerful ending to chapter 20, to demonstrate how the main character misses her dead boyfriend:

"She lay on the couch for the rest of the morning, like some cra...more
Kelly
Jan 01, 2008 Kelly rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like character sketches with deep-running themes; people into the early 80s punk scene
I was nervous reading Paint it Black because I didn't want to be let down, as Fitch's previous novel, White Oleander, remains one of my favorite books. Although I don't think Paint it Black is as good as White Oleander, I definitely wasn't let down.

The book is a dual portrait of a young couple in LA in the early 1980s, where Josie is the narrator and Michael has just committed suicide. Josie tells her story while she reminisces about him. Of course she struggles with his death and tries to unde...more
Emily
Jul 03, 2007 Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bleach blondes in LA, Edie Sedgwick fans
Shelves: booksofthepast
After "White Oleander" I fear I expected too much. This book is excellent- well written, interesting, wonderfully structured and well timed- but it reads more like a first novel than "White Oleander" did. The story of a a young art model and indie actress (think Edie Sedgwick minus The Factory and the big budget from home...and minus Andy, too) who loses her lover in a moment of tragedy, "Paint It Black" is elegant and raw, just like Fitch's debut, but it doesn't have the same developed style. I...more
Kate
This was my first Janet Fitch novel (I haven't read White Oleander yet) and even though the material was dark, I think it was a very important subject to explore.

The story begins with Michael's suicide. His suicide represents the despair of not being able to meet his ideals of perfectionism. To me Michael was relatable because I too struggle with perfectionism and procrastination.

Josie, his girlfriend, is left to come to terms with this situation. To me she represents the authentic self and over...more
Kate
Mar 04, 2009 Kate rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ppl who love LA and CA, ppl who appreciate LOTS of repetition and painstaking detail
Shelves: 1980-s, family, punk-rock, la
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathryn
Well, I'll be very frank: This wasn't as good as White Oleander, which I gave five stars, hands down..

I had wanted to read Paint it Black for several years because I loved White Oleander so much. I was pretty excited when I finally found a copy a few weeks ago.

I'm not sure if I'm just spoiled by Stephen King, whose books I've been divulging in for several months, or if it has to do with the excitement and anticipation of reading Paint it Black. Or maybe my taste in reading has changed since I...more
Sandy
Jan 03, 2009 Sandy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: white oleander fans
Recommended to Sandy by: Britanie
Having really enjoyed White Oleander, I had high hopes for Paint it Black. I was disappointed. It's not that it is a bad book, I liked it well enough, but it's very drawn out and slow. A lot of Josie's thoughts were redundant and I really felt like a lot of what was written was padding that could have been taken out.

There was just too much that didn't affect the storyline that, if it was removed, would have made the book far more readable. I found that certain sections would have me gobbling al...more
Tracie
I hated this book. It was such a huge disappointment. I loved White Oleander and this book was such a far car from White Oleander. The main reason I didn't like it was due to the main character, Josie. She wasn't likable, she wasn't all that interesting and if she gets interesting...I wouldn't know because half way through the book, I quit. If you can't get to the point by the half-point, then I'm abandoning ship. Extremely disappointing novel.

Another thing, I couldn't figure out why Josie like...more
liz
Not much of any developement in this story. Its about a punk chick whose artist boyfriend commits suicide. It was sad and depressing and never got better or worse. I was expecting so much more from this book but I felt like I just read the same thing over and over again. It was long and could have been summed up in about a quarter of its length. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen between the boyfriend's mother and the girl, but I got nothing. Both the mother and the girlfriend we...more
Chelsea
Aug 22, 2007 Chelsea rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No One
HORRIBLE---- =(
Don't waste your time!!!
Jennifer Kreft
Well, the first day after finishing this, my soul was in tatters. It's just so damn sad. But I took comfort in the fact that the main character, Josie Tyrell, was far worse off. At the beginning of "Paint It Black" she discovers that her handsome, gifted boyfriend has committed suicide. The story which follows is a grueling tournament of obstacles Josie must face in order to come to terms with this death. She must stare down her anger and examine the role she played in his despair. Appropriately...more
Leah
DNFing at 60%.

I adore Janet Fitch. I've read White Oleander twice, and I rarely re-read books. It's gorgeous. This woman's brain is a ripe fruit bursting with all sorts of juicy metaphors.

Sadly, Paint it Black just isn't working for me. It's a combination of several things: lack of interest in any character except the cuckoo pianist mom (Fitch has a talent for writing brilliant, fucked up mothers, much like Gillian Flynn), a redundant and glacially paced narrative, and a persistent feeling like...more
Rosie
I finally finished Paint It Black by Janet Fitch. I feel like it took me FOREVER to finish reading this because it was such a snoozer. I really liked her first novel, White Oleander, so when I saw this book on the bargain table at Barnes & Noble I thought I would like it just as much. Nope. My final verdict is slow moving and just ok. At the beginning of the story, Josie Tyrell (the main character), needs to go ID the body of her boyfriend, Micheal, after he kills himself. The story goes on...more
Louise
I'm surprised that so many people hated this book. True, it took me AGES to get into it, and at first it does seem quite slow and I was a bit disappointed, but then I read it all in one go (literally - I read it around xmas and I had to do a lot of travelling), and I ended up by actually liking it. Not loving it, but I didn't hate it. I thought the characters were interesting. Well, not the main one, really, and I thought Michael was bit of a pissant - but Meredith was a pretty good character. I...more
Deanna
I tried and I tired but I just could not continue to read this book. I'm not sure what the problem was. I did catch a nasty virus after starting this book, and had to take a few days off from reading it due to the fact that I could barely sit up for more than 5 minutes at a time, let alone keep my eyes open long enough to read a page! So maybe that had something to do with it? I don't know.

I do know that I became very bored with the boo-hooing over the lost boyfriend. I was nearly half way throu...more
Bethany
Jul 25, 2007 Bethany rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Janet Fitch
Shelves: adultfiction
Because of my love for White Oleander I automatically went for this title. It is a much grittier story than Oleander, but equally powerful.

It follows the life of the main character, Josie, who is a struggling to make a life as an actress in LA. Hailing from the trailer parks of Bakersfield, CA, Josie never really received much support to make something of herself, so when she became the object of affection of the rich, spoiled Michael Faraday - son of a renowned concert pianist and travel write...more
Lauren
I was disappointed by this book at first, probably because I made the mistake of comparing it to White Oleander, which I don't think anybody should do. The book took me forever to get through because I was getting so bored. Josie annoyed me throughout most of the book, especially in the beginning. I kept reading it, however, and it did get more interesting in some parts, but then it would go back to being so dull for such a long time. I felt like I was reading the same things over and over. I th...more
David Jay
This book was such a huge disappointment to me. I adored "White Oleander" and was thrilled when Fitch wrote a second novel. It has similiar themes (teen girl in Los Angeles, major life changes after a murder/suicide at the beginning of the book, intense, mentally ill mother who is beautiful, powerful, famous) but "White Oleander" was so beautifully written and really transfixing. This book was just boring. I had trouble believing that it was written by the same person. There were some memorable...more
Jeni Pandolfi
May 22, 2007 Jeni Pandolfi rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: gossip queens
This book was recommended by my room mate, and she has very good taste, however this one I would not suggest to anyone.
The story does have its high points, Meredith's character is fantastically drawn out, and Michael's demise told through interactions with the women in his life is very engaging. However, Josie the protagonist, is a predictable 20 year old outcast. Put into an atypical situation she and handles it exactly how a "wounded" teen would. She washes down pills with a lot of alcohol an...more
Jill
May 29, 2014 Jill rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jill by: Ulla von Ja
In some ways, this book is like one of those display cakes in the windows of fancy bakeries. Lush, intricate, stunningly beautiful. Stylish swirls; painstakingly-handcrafted characters; pale, but vibrant. You want to eat it up, all of it, but you know you should hold back, if only because it's a work of art.

But.
In other ways, this book is a half-finished drink at the seediest bar in town. Incomplete, dirty, honest. You look down at the liquid and your face reflects back at you, and you are asham...more
Crys
Dec 19, 2010 Crys rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
The author, Janet Finch, wrote White Oleander, which is one of my favorite books, so I expected to like this book very much. With the first few pages, I felt I was going to be let down because I really disliked the main character, Josie Tyrell. She was coarse, rude, bored by life but content in her own disaster. After the first few chapters, I started to like her, saw similarities between herself and me and actually became very interested in her life and its direction. She is overcoming the loss...more
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Janet Fitch was born in Los Angeles, a third-generation native, and grew up in a family of voracious readers. As an undergraduate at Reed College, Fitch had decided to become an historian, attracted to its powerful narratives, the scope of events, the colossal personalities, and the potency and breadth of its themes. But when she won a student exchange to Keele University in England, where her pas...more
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“Girls were born knowing how destructive the truth could be. They learned to hold it in, tamp it down, like gunpowder in an old fashioned gun. Then it exploded in your face on a November day in the rain.” 147 likes
“Whenever she thought she could not feel more alone, the universe peeled back another layer of darkness.” 103 likes
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