About Paint It Black
Paint It Black
(Little, Brown, September 2006)
The aftermath of a suicide, set in 1980 punk rock LA. Josie Tyrell, art model, teen runaway, actress in student films, thinks she’s found her chance at real love and entre to a greater world in Michael Faraday—artist and Harvard dropout, son of a renowned concert pianist and grandson of a legendary film composer–until the day she receives a call from the Los Angeles County Coroner, asking her to identify her lover’s body. “What happens to a dream when the dreamer is gone?” is the central question of Paint It Black, the story of the aftermath of Michael’s death, and Josie’s struggle to hold on to the true world he had shared with her. Compounding her grief and rage is Michael’s pianist mother, Meredith Loewy, who returns to her native city with the news of her only son’s death. Despite a fierce mutual enmity, the two women find themselves drawn into an eerie relationship reflecting equal parts distrust and blind need.
From Janet: Here are the works that informed Paint It Black (ran in September 2006 issue of Poets and Writers)
We live in the creative products of our civilization no less than we live in a house on a street in a city in a country at a certain time in history. This is just some of the music that plays constantly inside my head, the colors of my internal palette, that bleeds through all my work, and specifically, informed Paint It Black.
“Love in the Asylum,” “Altarwise by Owl-Light,” “Over Sir John’s Hill,” and “In Country Sleep,” by Dylan Thomas. There’s a whole Dylan Thomas theme in Paint It Black. “Love in the Asylum” was actually the title of the short story.
The Prose of the Transsiberian and Little Jeanne of Montmartre, by Blaise Cendrars. There’s a whole Transsiberian theme in the book, and I think Cendrars captures the restlessness and extremes of youth so beautifully.
Poe, especially The Fall of the House of Usher. Poe was my first love.
Faulkner. The existential, familial doom of The Sound and The Fury.
A history of the LA punk scene, We’ve got the Neutron Bomb by Mark Spitz and Brendan Mullen, totally evocative of time and place.
Patti Smith, who inspires me always.
Nico, and Velvet Underground with Nico. Nico to me embodies absolutely the dark poignancy of this book, songs like “These Days” and “Fairest of the Seasons,” which so evoked the boy’s mindset in my book.
Classical piano repertoire. Late Brahms piano music, really spoke to me, the Romances and Intermezzos. The musical voice of one of the book’s major elements.
Schoenberg Pierrot Lunaire, both for the modernism and the fact that Schoenberg was an exile from Nazi dominated Europe, like the grandfather in the book,
Debussy, for that out-of-time sense of a house in mourning.
Egon Schiele, the boy’s favorite artist—a somehow desperate, highly eroticized, painter of the Viennese Secession. I love this period, but it took me a while to warm to Schiele.
Paul Tchelitchew—disturbed, metamorphic drawings–highly inspirational.
Eric Fischl—I craved his eerie eroticised domestic scenes.
Sophie Calle–the mystery of human life as viewed from outside.