Andres Lopez’s “Paint it Yellow” is an absolutely wonderful novel about a young, college educated, taxi cab driver in New York City during the turbulent 1980’s. In some ways it reminded me of “Catcher in the Rye” and in other ways it reminded me of James Baldwin’s masterpiece “Another Country,” but it is no doubt Mr. Lopez’s story and it is told with a brutal honesty that would bring a smile to Hemingway’s face.
Gabriel Brosa, the protagonist, has recently graduated from college and like many college graduates, he is undecided about what his future holds. Following the advice of his friend Sal, he decides to drive a cab while pondering his future. It is during this time, that the city of New York unfolds before our eyes like a Martin Scorsese/ Woody Allen movie collaboration. Mr. Lopez moves between the different social stratospheres of the city with the ease and adroitness that only someone with first hand experience could write about.
It is during one of his shifts that he comes face to face with a mystery from his past that upends his life and sets him on a path of self discovery as he travels through the city in his cab. Mandy, a teenage crush, who Gabriel has never got over and whose memories of her are as fresh as yesterday’s news has been missing for years and presumed dead. Away at college during the time of her disappearance, Gabriel is informed about the tragedy when, by chance, he runs into a former high school coach.
The news of her disappearance, propels the story into unforeseen Terrority and unveils the insecurities and complexities of the young protagonist and leads to a climacteric and awe aspiring ending that leaves one breathless.