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By Janet Fitch
First came White Oleander, Janet Fitch's earliest successful novel, and then came Paint It Black, a tale no less mesmerizing. The story is set in the 80's Punk scene in LA and follows a young girl named Josie Tyrell as she copes with the suicide of the only person that she ever truly loved. Josie was just white trash before Michael Faraday entered her life. He read her poetry, taught her how to dream, and filled her with a light that she never knew existed, but then it was gone, and she was left in the dark, alone.
Josie try's to cope with the pain through drugs and alcohol, she try's burying herself in her work and running from the pain, but it just leads to a series of dead ends. She misses Michael and hates him for leaving her. Soon she finds their relationship was riddled with lies, she learned Michael was not only using paint to create scenes, but he also illustrated a very detailed life for himself. He was not exactly who he made himself out to be, but he was still the boy who stole her heart.
Throughout the book Josie encounters Meredith Loewy, Michael's mom. Meredith despised Josie when Michael was alive, and not much changed afterwards. Meredith is hollow inside, and Josie can see that, but for some reason she is drawn to the powerful, rich pianist. She respects her, fears her, and pity's her. Josie is all Meredith has left, and like it or not, Meredith Loewy is all that is left of Michael. Josie struggles in an inner conflict, should she befriend this beautiful older woman that so reminds her of Michael, or should she stay away from the void of Meredith Loewy, where lovers are lost?
The passage I chose is in the very beginning. Josie has just gotten a call from the LA police department. They ask her to come down to the morgue to identify a body of a boy registered as Oscar Wilde. Josie had thought Michael was at his mother's house, painting. She knew he needed his space when he painted and hadn't called for a while. Little did she know, Michael was sitting in trashy motel room in Twentynine Palms preparing to put a bullet through his brain.
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-Pg. 14 Para. 3, 4, & 5
I chose this passage because it is very important to the plot and demonstrates the general mood and voice of the story and author. Josie has a mini flashback, remembering the words Michael spoke before he went "A Project I've been thinking about. Some time to concentrate" Josie has flashbacks all throughout the story, elaborating on the memories her and Michael shared. You also get a glimpse into the sole of Josie Tyrell, the main character. You see how Josie becomes a jumble of depression and empty sorrow the second she knows it's him. The passage also conveys how the author writes with a certain rhythm and poetic sense. There are no clichés in Paint It Black; you hear new ways of describing things on every page. Janet Fitch mixes senses, saying things like sorrow tasting like copper and comparing and an impressed visitor to a badly trained dog. The author paints a new picture with every sentence and the passage I chose from the book is just a small masterpiece, but one that will leave you with a hunger to know more.