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The Color Master

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  3,198 ratings  ·  513 reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, a Richard and Judy bookclub pick, returns with a wonderful collection of enchanting, strange and magical stories.

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 real
Paperback, 222 pages
Published May 8th 2014 by Windmill Books (first published August 13th 2013)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, hey-shorty
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
Jennifer Tam
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m only about a 1/3 of the way through this collection of short stories and I’m not normally a short story kind of reader but these are blowing me away and making me think - love her style of writing - my rating may change as I read the rest of the book but somehow I doubt it - can’t wait to read more of her writing
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
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2014
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
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
(3.5) Bender is best known for The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. This is the second collection of her stories that I’ve read. Most have a touch of the bizarre to them – a tiny tweak to normal life – but some are set in completely alternate worlds. One character experiences extreme face blindness; another deludes himself that he was a famously vicious Nazi during the Second World War. Seamstresses take on odd tasks like repairing endangered animals or, in the title story, creating a dress tha ...more
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
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
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013
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
Nadine Larter
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Can I mark a book five stars purely because my own ideas have been going haywire since I started reading it? That seems fair, doesn't it? I have such a love for Aimee Bender despite the fact that I'm not nearly quirky enough to understand half of what she is saying. She gives me pause, though. The kind of pause that is hopeful with regards to my own self and my own abilities. I have lead a life of such rules. Always. This is what you have to do to be an acceptable girl. An acceptable scholar. An ...more
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a strong collection of short stories, however, not strong enough to revisit over and over. Ms. Bender fabulously captures the absurdity and surrealism of human interaction; she writes well. Some of her stories in this volume become too meandering or not meandering enough, though. The title story, “The Color Master” is by far the best and, combined with the final story, “The Devourings” redeemed this collection to 4 stars for me. Both stories are included in other anthologies that I own s ...more
The four stars is primarily due to a select few of my very favorites from this collection. The Red Ribbon (The role play of prostitution between a married couple results in the wife being unable to have meaningful sex without payment ever again), Appleless (A magical world where apples forever fall from trees in an orchard), The Doctor & The Rabbi (Touches on the idea of God/Atheism, waiting in a "queue" for prayers: "The best way I can think to describe it,” she said, “is the way, when you’re d ...more
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Diane S ☔
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jenna Hazzard
To preface this review, I did not finish this book. I read to about page 110 before giving up.

I picked this book up for a couple of dollars somewhere, and to be honest, I'm glad that I didn't spend much more than that. I can see why people enjoy Aimee Bender and to a certain degree, I also enjoyed her writing. She uses some interesting metaphors. For example, "Her hair is so long and wheatlike you could bake it into bread." However, I tired of this flowery style quickly. Perhaps the book just w
Tamara Jaffe-Notier
If you're a willing reader, you'll go everywhere with Aimee Bender. Readers might feel like writers for a bit here, like we're the kid sitting on a grownup's lap while the grownup is driving. For a moment we can glimpse through the windshield of the story. I'm going back for more.
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good short stories are hard to come by and these are an artform.

I loved this collection, I love Aimee Bender.

I went and bought her other story collections straight away.

Aimee - you are the story master, please never stop writing.
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: boozy-reviews
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
Sep 30, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Rhiannon Johnson
Aug 12, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quit
"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
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
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
I just love Aimee Bender. I've enjoyed all of her books, but particularly her short stories. Unlike some of the previous books, which I've devoured in a day or two, these stories were better read one or two at a time followed by a break. I've been reading them off-and-on for nearly two months. Some of these were less magic-filled and fairy like than her best stories. Bender shines most when her stories take a turn for the strange. The woman who married an ogre, the title story of a clothier that ...more
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, ladyish
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 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
Jessica Jeffers
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
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
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.
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: weird-stuff
I almost forgot how wonderful Aimee's stories are. My faves here: Appleless, The Red Ribbon, Lemonade, and America.
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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.

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