Thursday, March 17, 2011

Top ten books on color

Peter Forbes is a UK-based science writer. The Gecko’s Foot (2006) explored the new world of bio-inspiration: engineering solutions taken from nature. He writes for many magazines and newspapers including The Guardian, The Independent, The Times and Scientific American.

His latest book is Dazzled and Deceived: Mimicry and Camouflage.

"Colours are a natural meeting place of art and science," he explains in a preface to ten top list of books on color he named for the Guardian. "Their allure has powered exploration, trade routes and scientific innovation: from the mauve dye that gave birth to the modern chemical industry, through the cadmium pigments that gave the Impressionist and Post-Impressionists a new, more vibrant, palette, to the blue lasers that allow vastly more visual imagery to be packed onto a Blu-ray disc. Colour is challenging for writers: like music it appeals directly to the senses, bypassing language. But you can't keep words out of anything, and for some writers words come bathed in colours."

One book on Forbes's list:
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

In one of the great novels of black consciousness, Ellison, writing in the early 1950s, renders black as "invisible". From this humiliated/privileged vantage point he restlessly prowls his neighbourhood, becoming a passionate street activist. Every scene is vivid to the point of hyper-reality and for a man who feels invisible, Ellison has a palette as bright as that of any writer: "I looked towards the window to see an eruption of colour, as though a gale had whipped up a bundle of brightly coloured rags. It was an aviary of tropical birds ... I watched the surge and flutter of the birds as their colours flared for an instant like an unfurled oriental fan".
Read about the other books on the list.

Invisible Man comes in second on the list of the 100 best last lines from novels; it appears among Joyce Hackett's top ten musical novels, Sam Munson's six best stoner novels, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best nameless protagonists in literature.

The Page 99 Test: Peter Forbes' Dazzled and Deceived.

--Marshal Zeringue