Paperback, 228 pages
Color Plates is a museum of stories, curated by a sort-of Mary Cassatt. Four rooms of Mary’s museum are open to the public, and they are named Éduoard Manet, Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Mary Cassatt. Color Plates contains sixty-three little stories—plates—spun from real paintings by these painters. The stories range from sweet to weird, from melancholy to funny. This isn’t just a short story collection, and it isn’t a novel, but something else entirely. The plates each stand alone, offering startling visions and situations. Yet at the same time, Color Plates offers the depth of a novel, with recurring characters, themes, and motifs. The museum says: My name is Mary and Mary is my museum. Paintings are brushstroke upon brushstroke. With a pencil I lift each brushstroke and make lines.Line upon line, story upon story, the small fictions in Color Plates will engage you, delight you, and challenge you to consider the intersections between art and time.
“These are not interpretations or explanations of paintings—not even extrapolations or ekphrases. Instead, Color Plates is about the way a painting can provoke memory, can rustle its way into our head and incite synapses to connect in ways that are far from being obvious in the painting itself. Golaski superimposes the image in the painting with the event trapped in the head, laying the second on top of the first like ‘two texts on tissue paper’ or two lovers in a bed.”
“Color Plates is a breakthrough collection. I could not put this book down. Like all lovers of contemporary fiction, I hunt for that rare and intelligent voice that both inspires and delights—Golaski is that voice. A trickster more deft than Steven Millhauser, Golaski is a visionary wordsmith and Color Plates is a wonder box of stories. Not only will I buy this book for my friends and relatives, I will carry Color Plates around with me to spark my own imagination and writing—a one-of-a-kind book find, a mind-blowing reading experience. I love this book.”
“The haunted, haunting tales in Adam Golaski’s Color Plates share a painterly attention to ‘quick application, short strokes’ and the same idiosyncratic, off-kilter take on narrative as the canvases by Manet, Degas, Cassatt, and Toulouse-Lautrec this book invokes. These brief stories invent and re-invent worlds: as the book itself has it, ‘they start one way and go another.’”
“In this doubly ekphrastic collection, busy, vertiginous worlds open up from the two dimensions of a painted canvas, or the still more meager resources of the printed page: family upon family, girlfriend after girlfriend, inverting hills, a collapsing balcony, a retreating shoreline, a sleeping projectionist and a slipping picture, shadow boxes and cast parties, carousel horses and paper jockeys, baths and mirrors, doubles and trains, grass green, lamp green, jade green, & dress green. Each painting opens up onto prose, each prose opens up into a kind of chambered flux, and, on such ingenious axes, human figures flex, dip, and leap like tiny tumblers.”