DNF: The Color Master

The Color Master, Aimee Bender“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. An ugly woman marries an ogre and struggles to decide if she should stay with him after he mistakenly eats their children. Two sisters travel deep into Malaysia, where one learns the art of mending tigers who have been ripped to shreds.

In these deeply resonant stories—evocative, funny, beautiful, and sad—we see ourselves reflected as if in a funhouse mirror. Aimee Bender has once again proven herself to be among the most imaginative, exciting, and intelligent writers of our time.” -Goodreads

I’d rather stick a needle in my eye

It started out so promising. NPR gave The Color Master a great review, and I thought that for the first time in my life I might have stumbled upon a collection of story stories I could enjoy.

Unfortunately, though, I appear to have underestimated my intelligence; where People calls author Aimee Bender’s stories “moving, fanciful, and gorgeously strange” and The Boston Globe pronounces her writing “full of provocative ideas,” I just see a mish-mash of unconnected, weird, boring stories.

The stories are dull, unconnected, and couldn’t hold my interest. I gave up after story six, “The Fake Nazi,” in which a delusional man who was in no way involved in the Holocaust turns himself in at Nuremberg and believes he cursed his brother with the power of his mind.

Many of Bender’s stories have a fairytale flavor, just not the kind I can endure. Where novels like Ash, Deerskin, and even The Sugar Queen were beautiful and dark, I found The Color Master incomprehensible and annoying.

Does this make me a lazy reader, unwilling to dedicate brain space to interpreting “deep” literature? Possibly. But I’d rather spend my reading time enjoying myself than trying to find meaning in stories to which I feel no connection.

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