The Color Master by Aimee Bender

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The Color Master by Aimee Bender

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Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: Another collection from Aimee Bender, the writer who twists

our perception till the extraordinary feels normal forming a happy marriage between short stories and quirk.

Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: August 2013
Publisher: Hutchinson
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0091953898

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Another parade of fascinating, unusual personalities and odd events from the author of Willful Creatures. This time out Aimee introduces us to people like Hans the fake Nazi, young William to whom all people look the same and Janet who decides to spice up her love-life with detrimental results. Among other things we also witness a less-than-altruistic anti-war demonstration and an odd occurrence in an orchard showing how odd an apple-only diet could make us.

In the past, American Ms Bender has written a highly acclaimed novel (The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake) but her great talent is for short stories of an unusual kind. If you enjoyed Willful Creatures as much as I did then the news is good – these are just as innovative and unexpected. (By the way, the unpretentious, honest style also includes adult themes and occasional adult language.)

Aimee creates worlds which invite us in and, once we're there, anything can happen around us. Sometimes, as in the sad tale of The Fake Nazi we're in an exact replica of our world. However sometimes we're in a world of fantasy. For an example of this we need go no further than the amusing and deliciously odd Tiger Mending in which two sisters set out on a conservation project that the WWF hasn't come up with (and probably for good reason).

When I read Aimee's last collection I desperately sought meaning from each self-contained story. However I now realise that's totally unnecessary: it's about the surface journey as much as the depth. Yes, there are meanings to be gleaned; the conversation in The Doctor and The Rabbi could remind us of our connection with the universe and perhaps The Red Ribbon (the spiced up marriage that goes over the top) is a comment on a society that's unable to enjoy anything for its own sake. But then what meaning could you pin onto the reverse robbery in Americca? My advice is, if one doesn't come to mind, don't force it. Just enjoy the quirky voices and the scenery as it goes by.

It would be interesting to see if you come away with a favourite episode. I have a different one each time I read them. At the moment I love the adult fairy story feeling of the title tale. When I say it's about an apprentice colour mixer who matches shades for shoes and clothes it doesn't sound much but it waltzed me into an absorbing universe of princesses and colour magic that seems perfectly credible. That in a nutshell isn't just the magic of The Color Master, it's also the magic of Aimee Bender.

I'd like to thank Hutchinson for providing us with a copy for review.

If this appeals, we think you'll also enjoy of [[Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender|Willful Creatures]]. If you're already a fan, try something just as original and just as good: [[My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fictions by Tania Hershman]]

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