PUBLICATION DATE: MARCH 4, 2011
had mixed emotions after reading Estevan Vega’s When Colors Bleed. It takes guts to dive deep into the dark well of human emotion as it relates to death, depression and mental illness within the confines of a short story. The experience can be an intense one, but if the author handles the characters well, the intensity can be a great asset. However if they are not, the result can be something like entering a public place and spilling all your deepest secrets to a perfect stranger. There’s no trust and no context; so while the emotion may be authentic, the encounter itself is incredibly awkward and uncomfortable.
This is what happens with Baby Blue. Casey is a twenty-three year old college grad who works at Nordstrom. As such, her plight is one to which many of us who have earned diplomas since 2006 can relate. She is dissatisfied and dreamless. Enter random, mysterious stranger whose attention inspires in her passion she has yet to know.
Vanilla Red, however, is much more convincing. With enticing language Vega takes us into the mind of a murderer. He creates a world of grief that juxtaposes rationale with insanity, and so while we may not understand or have compassion for the murderer, his actions do not seem strange but rather truthful. Because of this, Vanilla Red is succinctly creepy and almost provocative.
The Man in the Colored Room outshines the other stories by far. Like a parable, Vega uses vivid images to tell the story of Colin, a man whose life has caught up with him. After suddenly finding himself in strange surroundings, confronted by a strange man with strange socks, Colin begs to be free. Part of what makes this story so good are the layers that the reader must slowly peel away to understand Colin’s fate, and possibly our own.
When Colors Bleed is a solidly good read. There are moments when the literature freak in me wishes he or his editor had tried a little harder or burned a bit more of the midnight oil. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for something for your brain to hold on to while waiting for the bus this summer, pick this one up. You will not be disappointed.
stevan Vega is far from being a household name today heard in Christian circles but his is a name you soon won’t forget. Vega is perhaps one of the very best writers out there with his first major novel Arson recently releasing. It was one of my favorite pieces of fiction in a long time, and so when the opportunity to read his collection of short stories, When Colors Bleed, came up I could not pass it up!
The collection begins with the story Baby Blue, which is a romantic tragedy told oh so elegantly. It consist of the characters of Casey, a struggling girl who has never found love, and Thomas Rayford, a mysterious man who comes in one day from the rain looking for a suit in Casey’s store. He comes back week after week only looking at one suit, a baby blue one that no-one else will buy. He tells her how it is beautiful to him and how special it is even though he is the only one who looks at it. The story develops in a way that captured me instantly and took me along on a magical ride. The ending was as marvelous as it was tragic and it left my mind unraveling.
That is not all however. The second story is Vanilla Red, a tale of a man locked up for life in a padded cell. But what makes this story so powerful is the perspective. It is told from within the mind of this man, a man so crazy it is hard to understand. Diving beneath the skin of this character onto the path that led to this cell is almost poetic. It has a lyrical and almost beautiful feel to this horrific and terrifying story, lending the character an almost sane quality. It is some truly amazing prose and my favorite of this collection.
The final tale is called The Man in the Colored Room. It is equally mysterious as the first and as beautiful as the second, but is about a man who finds himself waking up in this colored room for an unknown reason. As the reader figures out the mystery of it all they learn alongside the man bringing them into the story. The ending is unforeseen and it is truly amazing how Estevan Vega can manage it in such a short tale. You must readWhen Colors Bleed, and you will be hooked on his writing forever after!