Blood from a Stone by Donna Leon::David Colacci

It is not unusual to hear unflattering descriptions of Americans in the press, but when did Americans get so ugly in fiction? Consider a white haired couple who seem to be wearing each other’s clothes in Donna Leon’s Blood from a Stone:

The woman wore a flannel checked shirt and thick woolen slacks, while the man wore a pink V-necked sweater and white tennis shoes. Both apparently had had their hair cut by the same hand. One could not say that hers was longer, it was merely less short.

It is not merely that the Americans are not pretty. Not merely that they are overweight, asexual, loud and wear white shoes. Underneath all that brute unloveliness is their tastelessness, their undercivilized nature. As if they were taken out of the oven too soon.

What, all because of the white shoes?

No, no. Nevertheless, it might be time for Americans to take a hard look at their representations in popular fiction. Often these representations are shameful. Often they are insulting. And often, they are true.