cover image Fugitive Blue

Fugitive Blue

Dani Shapiro. Nan A. Talese, $20 (246pp) ISBN 978-0-385-42107-2

Shapiro ( Playing with Fire ) explores artistic motivations, selfishness and interdependence in this dark and lushly told tale. Her title refers to the Prussian blue paint favored by Picasso during his blue period, called ``fugitive'' because it eventually bleeds into and taints the colors around it. More broadly, the title hints at narrator Joanna Hirsch's sense of herself--she says that her months in the womb were ``the only time my mother felt that my existence was not erasing hers as surely as if my presence were a noxious, fugitive blue.'' Flashbacks reveal that when Joanna was 12, her mother fled their New Jersey home for a SoHo loft, forsaking the responsibilities of parenthood for greater freedom to pursue her art. Now 32 and an Off-Broadway actress, Joanna still craves her world-famous mother's acknowledgment, and she realizes that a similar dynamic of abandonment has shaped her relationships with men. Shapiro's resonant and complex storytelling earns the reader's full attention, as Joanna reassembles the shards of a broken mirror until at last it reflects a complete, if fragmented, portrait. BOMC selection. (Jan.)