“When it comes to ‘The Color of Night,’ keep yourself in the dark

by Andrew Keyser

Thousands of writers submit manuscripts everyday to publishers around the world.  Instead of them being chosen, and possibly releasing the next “Harry Potter“or “Fahrenheit 451,” Madison Smart Bell gets to release his 15th novel to date. 

“The Color of Night” focuses around a woman, Mae, reconnecting with her long lost lesbian lover after seeing her on a news clip of the 9/11 terrorist bombings.

The book then spirals backward through her years as an abused child growing up with parents who don’t care and an overly sexed brother who sexually abuses her every chance he gets.

Time switches again into Mae’s young-adult life in a typical 1960s commune where she is brainwashed, smokes a lot of pot and “balls” everyone she meets including her girlfriend and acquaintances.

Time jumps ahead to present day where she works as a blackjack dealer in a third-rate casino outside of Las Vegas.

After the initial time periods are set, the story continues to jump between time periods with the only indication being Mae’s current relationship.

The “Color of Night” claims to examine the effects of violence on people as they grow amongst it, and to a degree it does.  However, any of the message of the story is lost due to a few different factors.

The characters are ultimately unrelatable.  The amount of sex each person participates in makes otherwise interesting characters fall flat.  Whether a character is angry, happy, sad or simply content they are having sex with someone new.  The amount of sex between cult leaders and brainless followers, brother and sister, 90-year-old blind men and their under-aged mistresses, means any redeeming social commentary is lost in the ocean of pornography.

The punctuation also makes this book hard to get into.  Many times a single word comprises a whole sentence, and when more than a word is used, the sentence ends up being six lines long with semicolons attempting to connect ideas.

Flaws aside, “The Color of Night” does have some high points.  Mae is a great character aside from her sexual habits.  She acts as an everyman for anyone who has been disadvantaged in their lives and been forced to play the cards they were dealt.

Setting the story in the 1960s also gives readers a glimpse into a time period in a way they would not be able to experience through history books.  The story is also broken up into very short chapters so different ideas aren’t stuffed into a large chapter where readers would get lost.

This book releases on April 5, 2011.

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