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Paint it Black

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  11,340 ratings  ·  1,120 reviews
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 coroner, asking her to identify her lover's body, her bright dreams all turn to black.
As Josie struggles to understand Michael's death and to hold onto the world they share
Hardcover, 387 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Little Brown and Company
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Average rating 3.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,340 ratings  ·  1,120 reviews

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May 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
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
Aug 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2007, beautiful
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 again, ...more
Joe Valdez
Mar 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
This novel burns itself to the ground faster than a clubhouse stocked with oily rags, lighter fluid and homemade firecrackers in a bone dry field. Published in 2006, Paint it Black is Janet Fitch's follow-up to White Oleander. Talk about a hard act to follow, that novel ranks as the best L.A. novel I've read and one of the best by an American author. Fitch had earned herself a victory lap, or a novel whose paragraphs weren't all jeweled and a few characters who weren't as memorably sketched as t ...more
Asghar Abbas
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

So okay, this is what you do. Here's what. Pick up this book, open it in the middle, splitting it wide. Then put your face right in there. Inhale. And Breathe in LA, as everyone in this book comes alive.

Los Angeles has always been a bit animated in Fitch's stories, like an additional character and sometimes, even the main one. She enlivens her city in a way that you feel everything, every single thing in it. What her characters go through, stays with you even after there are no more pages left t
Jun 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Few writers manage to capture contemporary Los Angeles. It is not an easy thing to do. Ask any East Coast transplant and he will roll his head (not just his eyes, but his entire head) as he launches into the standard lambaste of the shallow, the inane, the mystic mumbo-jumbo, the ego, the irrelevance, the artificiality...Woody Allen nailed it, or was it clever Dorothy Parker with her sharp lament: "Los Angeles is seventy-two suburbs in search of a city." What they are saying, and it's important ...more
Nov 08, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Patricia Williams
This is a very different book. It is about depression and suicide and how it affects friends and family of a young man who shot himself. I read the whole book but had a very hard time with it. The author is very descriptive and it's a good story but just did not enjoy the subject matter. Story takes in LA in the late 1980's and there is a lot of the locations, bands and places like that mentioned that I know nothing about. The main character is a 20 year old young woman whose boyfriend goes to a ...more
Jun 10, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldntfinish
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
Jun 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 21, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Mar 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I waited almost two years to read Paint it Black. I purposely waited because White Oleander had made such a huge impact on me. Not only was it one of the best books I have ever read, the quality of writing was so inspiring that I returned to my own writing soon after. I learned the beauty of metaphor reading that book.

But I knew it would not be fair to the author to compare the two. I wanted Paint it Black to stand on its own for me, to be a work separate. And so I waited.

I finished the book ton
Sep 22, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Dec 26, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Feb 25, 2009 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: ppl who love LA and CA, ppl who appreciate LOTS of repetition and painstaking detail
Shelves: 1980-s, punk-rock, family, la
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, f-word
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
Tracie Yule
Sep 22, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: all-that-drama
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
Jul 03, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Sep 09, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: haveread
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
Apr 18, 2016 marked it as dnf-lost-interest
I keep wanting to start other books instead of finish this one. I might pick it back up later but I'm putting it down for now. ...more
Nicole Seviles
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A Review by Nicole S. Aviles
"Paint it Black" by Janet Fitch

“Whenever she thought she could not feel more alone, the universe peeled back another layer of darkness.” - Josie Tyrell, PIB / Janet Fitch, Author

I have waited a long time to leave this review. I first read PIB in 2012, while I was {sadly} locked away in a 2 year therapeutic recovery program. I say this because PIB is exactly what you'd want to read while facing such depressing circumstances. PIB is beautifully wri
Kelly Vincent
Jan 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Megan Baxter
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have a real resistance to liking this book. I wasn't a big fan of White Oleander, and that was an Oprah book, which turns on part of my snob brain in a way that isn't particularly fair.

On the other hand, I am particularly sensitive to depictions of grief these days, when they aren't saccharine or sentimental. And this book had that.

And more than that, it had a main character who was grieving who wasn't someone we would often see as deserving of grief, as if grief is something that can be deser
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  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.

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
May 05, 2008 rated it liked it
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
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
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
“Once the worst had happened to you, all the rest was just stuff and absence.”

Here's a thing. You can't approach Janet Fitch books thinking it's like every other book out there. You can't read it in one or two sittings. The beauty of her books can really be noticed when you portion time spent reading them. A chapter or two per day, read slowly makes you notice how unique and brilliant the world created by her is.
I remember trying to read it 5 years ago, I was 18 and not mature or experience
But that was the thing about zero. Its weakness. Even if zero had taken over the entire universe, the biggest fascist of all, one tiny gesture could deny it. One footprint, one atom. You didn't have to be a genius. You didn't even have to know that was what you were doing. You made a mark. You changed something. It said, "A human being passed here." And changed zero to one.

It's writing like this that make me want to read everything Janet Fitch has ever produced.
I cant seem to find the courage to finish this, ive had it for years (probs about 6 or 7) the pages aren't even white anymore.

Every time I try its a big snooze fest and I just cant. I'm glad that other people like but I really truly just cant.
Aug 22, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No One
Don't waste your time!!!
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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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