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ARCHIVES > September Group Read BONUS: PAINT IT BLACK (This discussion thread MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Please share your thoughts, options etc.....


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Opps think I've been sharing in the wrong place.

There are SO many good quotes in this book, I've been highlighting like crazy.

Usually in a book when people wallow I don't like it but she's put this story in a certain place and time and the writing is so good!

Still with the subject matter I read it in chunks cuz it's a bit depressing. I'm around 35% now. :)


message 3: by Kate (new)

Kate (kpaone92) | 5 comments I'm a bit more than 50% done with the book. I really like Josie a lot because she's real and just trying to figure things out. I have a bad feeling it might not end well, but I'm looking forward to seeing how it will end. The material is very dark, but I like the style of prose, as it really absorbed me into the story itself. I would definitely be interested in reading more by Fitch in the future and am interested in hearing other's comments/thoughts regarding the book as well. I agree with Coral that there's a lot of beautiful passages that need to be highlighted!


message 4: by Ariel (new)

Ariel (arielgolightly) I'm not currently reading Paint it Black because I've read it so many times before, but yes, it's definitely one of my favorites. The writing style (and the style in White Oleander as well) is very poetic--almost whimsical, for lack of a better word. I love all the long, winding sentences and references to songs, poems and artists.

As for Josie, I feel for her. I think how she handles her situation is very realistic and Fitch just makes me want to give her a hug or grab a beer with her or something.

My copy of the book is so old and there's something highlighted or underlined every few pages!


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Coral wrote: "Opps think I've been sharing in the wrong place.

There are SO many good quotes in this book, I've been highlighting like crazy.

Usually in a book when people wallow I don't like it but she's pu..."


No worries Coral, I was late in setting this discussion thread due to vacation. My bad


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Suicide is a tough subject. Sadly. Suicide touched my family and Josie's anguish is all too real. Janet did a wonderful job with the emotional landscape and the setting. Grand tour of SoCal for sure. I also felt the vibe of the punk scene, fab references. I liked the book. Will be great on the silver screen, my humble opinion.

Glad you ladies are enjoying the book. Greatly appreciate your participation.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Mal wrote: "Suicide is a tough subject. Sadly. Suicide touched my family and Josie's anguish is all too real. Janet did a wonderful job with the emotional landscape and the setting. Grand tour of SoCal for sur..."

I think it's touched everyone Mal.

I thought putting it through the mother and girlfriend relationship was different and put a new perspective on it. Read more last night. I'll be doing daily features on it next week and will post them here. :)


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Finished the book last night. I gave it 4.5 stars just because it was so dark that several times I had to take a break.

She painted the best imagery with her metaphors and I'd love to know how she does that. What was the inspiration for the story? I loved the hint of what might happen which would happen in a lesser done story but she takes it to the end and doesn't fall into melodrama.

Loved White Oleander and I would have to say I really liked this one because of the writing but the subject matter was so dark. Did she mean to do this and why? Maybe it was too plausible. hehe

The juxtaposition between social classes was great. I'm interested to hear what her process was. Great read!


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, I'm featuring the book next week with book memes before I post a review. :) (on my blog)


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Coral wrote: "Finished the book last night. I gave it 4.5 stars just because it was so dark that several times I had to take a break.

She painted the best imagery with her metaphors and I'd love to know how sh..."


I gotta say - Janet is the QUEEN of metaphors!! I wish I had a quarter of her writing talent. Pretty sure I mentioned the metaphor aspect in my review. The emotional landscape was impressive - very realistic. Difficult subject matter to write about.

I'm sure Janet will appreciate your comments Coral


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Coral wrote: "Oh, I'm featuring the book next week with book memes before I post a review. :) (on my blog)"

Awesome Coral!!!!


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Mondays I do Book Beginnings - http://shelf-stacker.com/2013/09/book...

What did you think of the beginning of the story? I liked the way it rooted the story in time and place and with an opinion of the character.


message 13: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 09, 2013 09:09AM) (new)

Coral wrote: "Mondays I do Book Beginnings - http://shelf-stacker.com/2013/09/book...

What did you think of the beginning of the story? I liked the way it rooted the story in time an..."


YES! I did too...dang good build up too. Characterization was excellent.

Gonna check out Book Beginnings :D


message 14: by Kate (new)

Kate (kpaone92) | 5 comments Coral and Mal I totally agree with your insights on the book's beginning. I would also like to add that I enjoyed how the characters were introduced to the reader. It made me want to keep reading to find out how the rest of the story would unfold. Coral your blog is great btw! Happy Monday!


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Kate wrote: "Coral and Mal I totally agree with your insights on the book's beginning. I would also like to add that I enjoyed how the characters were introduced to the reader. It made me want to keep reading t..."

Thanks!


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Kate wrote: "Coral and Mal I totally agree with your insights on the book's beginning. I would also like to add that I enjoyed how the characters were introduced to the reader. It made me want to keep reading t..."

Yep, I felt the same Kate.


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

So today I was looking at quotes and although I loved the metaphors I realize I didn't highlight them but rather these parts:

For she is my love, and other women are but big bodies of flame. Who in the world would have thought of her like that? When was the last time someone thought. I know what Josie will like. A book. Yeah! A poem, by a dead Frenchman. Who else in the history of the world? When most people looked at Josie Tyrell, they only saw a certain collection of bones, a selection of forms filling space. But Michael saw past the mouth and the eyes, the architecture of the body, her fleshy masquerade. Other boys were happy enough to enjoy the show, they just wanted to be entertained in the body's shadow theater. But Michael had to come backstage. He went down into the mines, into the dark, and brought up the gold, your new self, a better self. But what good was it if he was just going to leave her behind?

How had she ever been so ignorant? How right that the body changed over time, becoming a gallery of scars, a canvas of experience, a testament to life and one's capacity to endure it.

What isn't there is as important as what is, Phil always said.

At least if you were ignorant, you could do what you wanted, you had no idea what had been achieved in the past. You were free, instead of chewed at by bleeding impotence, dissolved away like a pearl in acid.

They say drugs are not the answer, but really, what is the question?

A phrase that would have sent Michael into ecstasies of loathing. Sort of Einstein meets Jayne Mansfield . . . Hitler meets Roy Rogers.

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.

Especially the first one I thought it explained their relationship. At several points at the beginning of the story I wondered how Fitch was going to make the story last about a dead boyfriend. I think parts like that and more further into the story explained how Josie felt and why she was devastated. The one about girls knowing the destructive power of truth is spot on. hehe

Anyone else highlight something?

http://shelf-stacker.com/2013/09/quot...


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Coral wrote: "So today I was looking at quotes and although I loved the metaphors I realize I didn't highlight them but rather these parts:

For she is my love, and other women are but big bodies of flame. Who i..."


Great job Coral! I'm just starting to "highlight" very useful function I should not have ignored.


message 19: by Merredith (new)

Merredith (merrij) I'm about half way through this book so far. I think i'm going to take a break and read something else for a few days though... The writing is very good, but that also makes the fact that these women are so sad and bitter kind of filter over into real life. It's a good author that can change your mood though! I do like that the character, Meredith, has my name (minus the extra R), although i feel i identify more with Josie.


message 20: by Kate (new)

Kate (kpaone92) | 5 comments I found that I highlighted more at the end then at the beginning. Some of my favorite quotes are:

"You paid for every second of beauty you managed to steal."

"It was that you had to take so many stompings from life that you'd be happy when the time came to close your eyes and never open them ever again."

"Michael used to draw self-portraits with nightmares hidden in his curls."

"Just like life. Each person was like one line of music, but nobody knew what the symphony sounded like. Only the conductor had the whole score."

"They say time heals all wounds but they're lying."

"It was a shrine. Josie hadn't thought to do that. She had no shrine, no candles. She only knew how to kill the thing she loved."

"The Fool, the Zero card, dressed in motley, dazzled face to the sky, foot about to come off the cliff. Pierrot. It wasn't Michael at all. It was her. You fool...And which one was he? The Magician? She'd thought he was. She'd thought he had it all lined up. The world spinning on his little finger. Or else the Hermit with his lantern, looking for the true world. But no, here he was. The twelfth card. The Hanged Man. Lashed upside down to his cross tree. Unable to go backward or forward."

"In stages, that's how. First you let go of the things you loved."

"Worth. He made you feel worthwhile. That was his gift."

"He'd loved her, he had. And he knew she loved him, he knew it! But it wasn't enough. She couldn't have imagined such a thing was possible. Love wasn't enough."

"Who can judge another man's suffering?"

"Wima and Josephine. Well okay then. Okay."


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Kate wrote: "I found that I highlighted more at the end then at the beginning. Some of my favorite quotes are:

"You paid for every second of beauty you managed to steal."

"It was that you had to take so many ..."


Thx great all great!


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Kate wrote: "I found that I highlighted more at the end then at the beginning. Some of my favorite quotes are:

"You paid for every second of beauty you managed to steal."

"It was that you had to take so many ..."


Nice. I had forgotten a couple of these that were really good.


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

As a former teacher, I love it when authors get to do this:

"I wanted to be esteemed by the cognoscenti."
Josie heard her father in her head, See, I told you. She's laughin at you. "Sorry for being so ignorant, but is that a yes or a no?"
The dreamy look in Meredith's eyes dissolved, and the focused intelligence, self-conscious, returned. "By a special few. Those in the know. Cogno meaning recognition-cogitato, to think."

"Unvollendete," Meredith said. "Unfinished."

It was a great way to show off the class difference.


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

I kinda like the acrostic poem I made with the title. If you try it let me know.

Posing
Across
Infinity
Negative
Tension
Is
Translucent
Better to
Live in
Answers
Chock full of
Knowledge than ignorance


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Coral wrote: "I kinda like the acrostic poem I made with the title. If you try it let me know.

Posing
Across
Infinity
Negative
Tension
Is
Translucent
Better to
Live in
Answers
Chock full of
Knowledge than igno..."


Awesome Coral!!!


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Coral wrote: "So today I was looking at quotes and although I loved the metaphors I realize I didn't highlight them but rather these parts:

For she is my love, and other women are but big bodies of flame. Who i..."


KICK ASS BLOG Coral!!! you go girl !!!


message 27: by Kate (new)

Kate (kpaone92) | 5 comments Awesome poem Coral!


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks! My friend Donna put the design together for me. :)


message 29: by Robin (new)

Robin (whatpuckreads) | 12 comments I loved White Oleander so when I found another book by Janet I HAD to read it. Paint it Black is excellent and I'm still worked up about it. As a fan of authors like Margaret Atwood, I really like writers who upset me with their stories.


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Robin wrote: "I loved White Oleander so when I found another book by Janet I HAD to read it. Paint it Black is excellent and I'm still worked up about it. As a fan of authors like Margaret Atwood, I really like ..."

Yay Robin, you should really enjoy interacting with Janet! Fun!


message 31: by Kara (new)

Kara (karaayako) I'm about a third of the way through, and I'd be interested in hearing from Janet how she thought up the character of Josie. I love how different she is from any of the characters in White Oleander. And the 80s LA punk rock scene is such a unique setting.


message 32: by Janet (new)

Janet (janetfitch) | 11 comments Hi All! I've so enjoyed reading these comments, the quotes from my book, it's really a thrill for me--to be read so closely and thoughtfully. Thanks Mal, for inviting me to be part of this conversation. I'm going to jump in and answer Kara's question.

Paint it Black started as a gothic little story about a girl who's boyfriend has hung himself in his mother's house--she goes to the house to see where he's done it, and the exhausted mother allows her to--then begins to address the girl as if she's the boy, and the girl answers as if she's him, and we realize that she's never going to leave that house, she's going to become the boy for his mother.

But as happens in writing, the character picks up a charge, like a magnetic charge, and begins accumulating other traits, other bits and pieces the artist has on his workbench. She's a poor girl, as my mother had been. She's an Okie, picking up that aspect of California history. She's a punk rocker... I had really come of age as a writer during the punk era, and knew a girl in particular who was my model in certain ways for Josie. I knew art teachers and their models. I knew girls who came from those big poor families where all the kids looked alike, and the teachers didn't bother to distinguish between the different children. Even if they were good girls, it wasn't noticed.

And then I know the difference between being a girl giving a performance of herself and a girl who is really known--how you adore someone who can really take you in and appreciate you, all of you. How she would feel about Michael.


message 33: by Ariel (new)

Ariel (arielgolightly) Janet wrote: "Hi All! I've so enjoyed reading these comments, the quotes from my book, it's really a thrill for me--to be read so closely and thoughtfully. Thanks Mal, for inviting me to be part of this convers..."

I'm so excited to be able to chat with you about this book! Along with White Oleander, it's one of my favorites--read and reread many times.

I feel like Josie in the beginning of the book--as amazingly badass and independent as she seems--sort of defined herself by Michael. And that's another reason his death tore her up so bad. There are a few times when she thinks, "He killed himself to get away from me." So what must that mean about what she was to him and therefore what she was as a person in general. I read a lot of fiction where female characters give off this false sense of independence and such, but do actually define themselves in reference to other people--wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter. What is so refreshing at the end of this book is that I really felt that Josie went through hell and came out of it as just Josie. That last line--"Wilma and Josephine. Well, okay then. Okay." really did it for me as far as Josie making a place for Michael and that part of her life in her memory, but always remembering to be true to herself first and foremost. (Of course, I could always be projecting, haha!) I guess my question is, was any of this intentional? Did you mean to write Josie as a feminist role model?


message 34: by Janet (last edited Sep 19, 2013 08:00PM) (new)

Janet (janetfitch) | 11 comments Interesting question. Yes, I think she's firmly an exemplar of how a girl who is unsure of her place in the world, her value outside of being objectified, comes to value herself and can become a role model/protector/mentor/example of self-accepting personhood by the end of the book. She is both softer and tougher by the end, able to drop the mask of toughness because she has found her real value, she doesn't need the carapace anymore.

And it's ironic that it took a boy to show her that--ironic in the feminist context. But I think anyone who values us, who sees what we have to offer as thinking, reacting, intelligent souls, whether they be male or female, is acting out of a feminist mindset. And when Josie realizes that her own soul is of ultimate value, and that it's up to her and no one but her to take care of it, she really becomes the young woman someone else can look up to. Michael got her half-way there, but she had to take herself the rest of the way.

Funny, that his mother was someone powerful in her own right. But is Meredith a feminist figure? Do monsters count?


message 35: by Ariel (new)

Ariel (arielgolightly) Janet wrote: "Interesting question. Yes, I think she's firmly an exemplar of how a girl who is unsure of her place in the world, her value outside of being objectified, comes to value herself and can become a r..."

As many times as I've read the book, I still haven't firmly made up my mind about Meredith. Sometimes, I do feel like she's a controlling monster who might have stopped Michael's death only by loosening her grip a little bit. But sometimes, I feel bad for her. Her husband has left her, leaving only her son to kind of dignify her family life--and he wasn't the easiest to raise obviously. I can see how Meredith depended on Michael in some what the same way--as proof that she was good at something and then it all blew up in her face. So I'm very torn on Meredith.

It's interesting that you called her a monster. Do you really feel that way about her and what is it like to write a character that you end up disliking?


message 36: by Kara (new)

Kara (karaayako) Thank you, Janet, for your response!

White Oleander is one of my favorite books, and Paint It Black is a fairly different type of book. How was your writing experience different between the two? Was Paint It Black easier to write after having the success of White Oleander under your belt? And I don't know if I can ask this, but which book do you consider the bigger achievement?


message 37: by Janet (new)

Janet (janetfitch) | 11 comments The monster question... Is Meredith a monster? I understand her... she's somone who was a prodigy, who did nothing but play piano, since she was a small child, who was pampered and pushed like a racehorse. She never went to camp, never pushed her way through a junior high hallway, never had the rough edges sanded off by other people pushing against her. So she isn't really an adult the way a normal person would be. Everything in her world revolves around her, depends on her performance. She was not valued as a person, she was only valued as to her talent. So on some level she still is very very childish, while being quite worldly and successful and sophisticated. I don't dislike her, only feel the tragedy of her situation, her competitive father, her loneliness, her inability to be an appropriate parent, which only now is she beginning to understand. I don't dislike her, though she does a lot of unlikable things.

As to the question about the experience of writing the two books--White Oleander was hard because I'd been working so long without any acceptance whatsoever--but Paint it Black was harder, because my expectation of myself was so much greater. I had a book that failed before Paint it Black, I was very much in Michael's situation when I wrote the book. As to the bigger achievement--wow. I don't think of my work that way. I can say that White Oleander had a bigger public reception, that it was helpful getting the plight of the foster children out into the open. Paint it Black and the suicide issue is a harder one for people to think about. Also that Josie is not as pitiable as Astrid... And this new one has been harder yet, as its historical, but easier too, as I'll never have to write a second novel again.


message 38: by Merredith (new)

Merredith (merrij) Maybe it’s because I’m a merredith too, but I didn’t see meredith as a monster at all, just very sad. Even though she’s a successful musician, she seemed the saddest person in the book, kind of wasted life now that her son’s gone.


message 39: by Ariel (new)

Ariel (arielgolightly) Janet wrote: "The monster question... Is Meredith a monster? I understand her... she's somone who was a prodigy, who did nothing but play piano, since she was a small child, who was pampered and pushed like a ra..."

I agree--I disliked a lot of the things she does, but still was able to feel bad for her.

I think my favorite moment in the book--because it was well-written and because I think it happens to everyone--was the night Josie slept with another guy for the first time. She had to get drunk to do it, then woke up and immediately regretted it because she did it out of pain more than anything. All the same it definitely surprised me. I know you said the entire book actually started as a short story...Did you always plan for Josie to have this night with a stranger? Or was it a surprise for you as well?


message 40: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 20, 2013 09:47PM) (new)

Did Meredith have an incestuous relationship with Michael or was it pure assumption/imagination on Josie's part? Mind clarifying Janet, please.


message 41: by Janet (last edited Sep 21, 2013 10:44AM) (new)

Janet (janetfitch) | 11 comments Oh Mal, that's a hard one to answer. My sense is that they didn't actually get it on, but that something happened that was so inappropriate, something that could have led directly to him fucking her, that it scared Michael enough that he called his father and broke with Meredith and tried to be 'a regular boy.' But it WAS an incestuous relationship, whether they got it on or not.


message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

Janet wrote: "Oh Mal, that's a hard one to answer. My sense is that they didn't actually get it on, but that something happened that was so inappropriate, something that could have led to directly to him fuckin..."

Thanks for clarifying...exactly what I thought, just wanted to verify. THAT was well played out in the book - alluded, mystique, cloud of assumption of that aspect of the relationship added to the Michael/Meredith enigma. Well done.


message 43: by Kate (new)

Kate (kpaone92) | 5 comments Hey Janet, I'm really enjoying reading all the great answers to our questions so far, so I was wondering if you're going to write a follow up to this book? One that features Wilma and Josephine's adventures together perhaps? I would definitely enjoy reading that book as well.


message 44: by Kara (new)

Kara (karaayako) I had kind of assumed that what had happened between Meredith and Michael had been mostly in Josie's head, so she could feel less guilty about his suicide and less angry with Michael. Now she could blame Meredith, be angry at Meredith, and have a weight lifted off of her.



I'm curious about Ariel's question, though. Janet, how much of your writing is planned ahead and how much just happens that surprises even you? What advice would you give aspiring writers in terms of pre-work they should do for a book before they sit down and start writing?


message 45: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Marcolongo | 4 comments Mal wrote: "Suicide is a tough subject. Sadly. Suicide touched my family and Josie's anguish is all too real. Janet did a wonderful job with the emotional landscape and the setting. Grand tour of SoCal for sur..."

I agree Mal. I think the title of the book "Paint it Black" says it all. For someone to have no hope to believe that death is the only answer that's black. Additionally, those who survive a loved one's suicide are left with a black void. I think Janet explored this difficult subject with compassion and understanding.


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

Ellen wrote: "Mal wrote: "Suicide is a tough subject. Sadly. Suicide touched my family and Josie's anguish is all too real. Janet did a wonderful job with the emotional landscape and the setting. Grand tour of S..."

Indeed Ellen. I related to Janet's words and emotions. I can only speak of my experience, Janet painted a very realistic picture. My scenario was a bit different, the underlying emotions and pain the same. Tough subject matter and Janet pulled it off brilliantly < not just saying that to suck up either, I'm serious.


message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

What would be really interesting....a book telling Michael's story! Hmmm kinda like he's speaking from the dead reflecting on everything. Oh Janet...it could tie into the story but take its own identity - not too sequilish < is that a word??


message 48: by Janet (new)

Janet (janetfitch) | 11 comments I plan very little, I usually know just something about a book or story. The beginning, what winds it up, like a spring. then I follow it. Mostly it surprises me. One thing leads to another. Sometimes it leads you into a blind alley and you have to unravel what you've written and go in a different direction. But if I had to plan it all out ahead of time, I wouldn't have to write it. I'd already be bored.

Pre work--a book takes a lifetime of pre work, in the sense that you're filling your soul with the materials of writing, you're always doing that kind of work. I never get ideas when I'm not writing, or at least ideas I can use. I do research as I go along because I don't know what I'm going to need until I get there.

I'd always advise people to write short instead of plunging into a novel, the way I'd say date befroe you marry someone. Write a bunch of short stories and then see which one seems to have more to say, more around it, opens up a world you want to stay inside.


message 49: by Kara (new)

Kara (karaayako) Janet wrote: "I'd always advise people to write short instead of plunging into a novel, the way I'd say date befroe you marry someone. Write a bunch of short stories and then see which one seems to have more to say, more around it, opens up a world you want to stay inside."

Timely tip. I'm thinking about participating in NaNoWriMo, and I've only ever written poetry. I will take your advice and spend the weeks leading up to November trying out some short stories. Thank you!


message 50: by Janet (last edited Sep 21, 2013 04:49PM) (new)

Janet (janetfitch) | 11 comments To answer Anasylvia's questions--first: Was Michael and Meredith's relationship something that you had already known about or was it something that revealed itself throughout the course of the writing? I knew it was one of those too-close mother son relationships. That was there pretty much from the beginning.

DId his self-revulsion come from that relationship, or did it spring from his own feelings of ineptitude with his artwork and his famous successful parents? I don't think his art was inept, I think he was a perfectionist, which he got from his mother, so doubted himself. I think he considered himself unmanly compared to his father and felt that his father thought he was unworthy. It came from his own disgust with his own doubts and fears, he was biochemically prone to depression (through his mother's side) which his father never understood. He was too intelligent and sensitive to do the things other people did easily, and it separated him from humanity.

If so how did Josie factor in to his spiral downward when from my perspective it seemed like she was supporting him and helping him be more adventurous with his art. She was supporting him, which increased his sense of worthlessness. She believed in him, so it made him feel like more of a fraud. She was becoming impatient with him which made him feel worse. He could see how disappointed she was in him, which seconded his own disgust with himself.


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