What’s That Colour all about?:
Set in the flat and threatened fenland landscape, where the sky is dominant and the sea lurks just beyond the horizon, these delicate, dangerous, and sometimes deeply funny stories tell of things buried and unearthed, of familiar places made strange, and of lives where much is hidden, much is at risk, and tender moments are hard-won. That Colour follows the conversation of a couple as the trees begin to change colour.
What did I think?:
I think some of the short stories in this collection are going to be very difficult to review, mainly due to the length of them. The first is only two pages long but gives the reader a good introduction into Jon McGregor’s writing style. It involves a couple in their home as the season is changing to Autumn. The woman (referred to only as “She”) is standing by a window, watching the trees change colour, and comments on how beautiful she finds it to her (assumed) partner, referred to as “I,” and washing the dishes.
The reader gets a sense that the couple have been together a long time and are slightly older and is given a few clues to this effect i.e. the aching hands of the dish-washer, the saying “when we were young” and when our narrator suggests that she says this same thing every year. The couple seem to be having a gentle argument, but one of those kinds where two people know each other inside out, and it is more “nit picking,” than genuine anger. At the end of the story, our narrator drifts into a comforting memory of when she dyed her hair to match her skirt, which they agreed to be the same colour as that of the trees,
I was a bit surprised on finishing this story, as I did not expect it to be that short, but on reading it a second time, I appreciated the beautifully descriptive writing, and how it laid itself out as being terribly simple yet undeniably complex underneath. For me, it felt like the portrayal of a couple that have been married for many years but are still deeply in love – the sentimental ending gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. I also enjoyed the style of writing that the author adopted, by missing out the quotation marks of speech for our two characters, and felt this made it more interesting to read, willing myself to concentrate so I could understand who was speaking. Looking forward to reading the rest of this one (although I may require the second reading tactic to appreciate the stories better!)
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 3):
NEXT SHORT STORY: The Alibi by Daphne Du Maurier, from the collection The Breaking Point.