The Future Was Color: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Fascinating and brilliant, The Future Was Color is a finely wrought portrait of an artist in search of himself. Attempting to escape his past as Gyorgy, the queer Jew from 1950s war-torn Budapest, George lands first in New York city and then L.A., trying to navigate his way thru 1950s McCarthy era, closeted Hollywood seeking a life saturated in art, literature, and the movies. But while George contemplates his future, yearning for deeper meaning in his life’s work and personal connections, the country is haunted by the horrors of WWII, the dawn of the atomic age, and the brutal end of the Hungarian Uprising of 1956, and is in the mood for escapist Hollywood fantasies, so he must settle for a job as a hack writer of horror movies about creatures from outer space. Pulsing with an undercurrent of eroticism and an anguished search for meaning in the 20th century, the story takes us from the seismic shifts in the New York art world to Hollywood’s important place in the American cultural zeitgeist, from an alcohol-and-dexedrine soaked Halloween party in L.A. to a mind-blowing, LSD-fueled sunrise over the Las Vegas desert. Patrick Nathan is a prodigiously talented author; The Future Was Color is smart and meditative, cinematically told, and filled with gorgeous prose and beautifully crafted sentences that are as enjoyable to read as they are thought-provoking. Ed loved and highly recommends!

— Ed


A dazzling novel about the inextricable link between the personal and the political set against the decadence of Hollywood and postwar Los Angeles

As a Hungarian immigrant working as a studio hack writing monster movies in 1950s Hollywood, George Curtis must navigate the McCarthy-era studio system filled with possible communists and spies, the life of closeted men along Sunset Boulevard, and the inability of the era to cleave love from persecution and guilt. But when Madeline, a famous actress, offers George a writing residency at her estate in Malibu to work on the political writing he cares most deeply about, his world is blown open. Soon Madeline is carrying George like an ornament into a class of postwar L.A. society ordinarily hidden from men like him.

What this lifestyle hides behind, aside from the monsters on the screen, are the monsters dwelling closer to home: this bacchanalia covers a gnawing hole shelled wide by the horror of the war they thought they’d left behind and the glimpse of an atomic future. It’s here that George understands he can never escape his past as György, the queer Jew who fled Budapest before the war and landed in New York, all alone, a decade prior.

Spanning from sun-drenched Los Angeles to the hidden corners of working-class New York to a virtuosic climax in the Las Vegas desert, The Future Was Color is an immaculately written exploration of postwar American decadence, reinventing the self through art, and the psychosis that lingers in a world that’s seen the bomb.

About the Author

PATRICK NATHAN is the author of Image Control and Some Hell, a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. His short fiction and essays have appeared in The New Republic, American Short Fiction, Gulf Coast, The Baffler, and elsewhere. He lives in Minneapolis.

Praise For…

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"If Fellow Travelers has you curious for more in-depth historical fiction on the McCarthy era and the lavender scare, look no further than Patrick Nathan’s new novel, set in 1950s Hollywood." —Tiernan Bertrand-Essington, Queerty

"This portrait of an artist in the making dazzles." —Publishers Weekly

"Ambitious, perspicacious, and humane." —Kirkus Reviews

"A gay Hungarian immigrant writing crappy monster movies in the McCarthy-era Hollywood studio system gets swept up by a famous actress and brought to her estate in Malibu to write what he really cares about—and realizes he can never escape his traumatic past. Sunset Boulevard is shaking." —John H. Maher, The Millions

“Patrick Nathan’s The Future Was Color is a sexy, prescient novel about the lengths an artist must go to to protect their career. It’s rare for a novel to be so emotionally gripping and intellectually rigorous, but it comes as no surprise that Nathan pulls it off. The Future Was Color is a love story; it’s a thriller; it’s an essential novel about creating art during war. This book fucks.” —Isle McElroy, author of People Collide

"Patrick Nathan's The Future Was Color is a sumptuous novel that captures the class, guilt, art, sex, and politics of 1950's Los Angeles with deft tenderness. Nathan is a master storyteller who navigates the complex world of Hollywood while exposing the darkness beneath the glittering surface. A stunning novel that illuminates an era." —Mark Haber, author of Saint Sebastian’s Abyss

“This brisk and delicious novel fearlessly tackles the vast subjects of the human impulse to make art and life in the atomic age. Heady stuff, so worth adding that The Future Was Color is among the sexiest books I’ve read. What more could any reader want?” —Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind

"Clear-sighted and terribly full of love for this doomed world, The Future Was Color is the devastating romance that America needs to recognize it needs. A tremendously beautiful novel of ending after ending in which Patrick Nathan’s elegant prose hums with quiet, precise anguish, reminiscent of Victor Serge and Ali Smith." —Mandy-Suzanne Wong, author of The Box

"Nathan's gripping historical novel reminds us of the power of art in the face of a cruel and uncaring world. This is a fiercely intelligent and serious moral work that every artist should read. I was swept up in this story and didn't want to let it go.” ––Garrard Conley, author of All the World Beside and Boy Erased

“Like the best of Andrew Holleran and Marguerite Duras, Patrick Nathan's new novel changed how I see the world through its desire, its precision, its porthole to a time and place that may otherwise have been lost. Achingly beautiful, The Future Was Color helps us confront the horrors of our own climate catastrophe by understanding how many times the world has already ended, especially for queer people. In Nathan's view, art is necessary, but the best life is one spent giving and receiving pleasure, and, through pleasure, love.” ––Joseph Osmundson, author of Virology and Grandview

Product Details
ISBN: 9781640096240
ISBN-10: 1640096248
Publisher: Counterpoint
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Pages: 224
Language: English