December 3, 2007

"livor mortis"

Mystery writer, Pat Cornwell, visited Rome last year while doing research for her recent novel that is being released in Italian this month as, "Il libro dei morti". While the Romans like seeing their city in print, or on film, they get a bit tired of the glossy, Americanized view that is shown over and over again, depicting only the places wealthy Americans visit: Piazza di Spagna, Trinità dei Monti, the Hotel Hassler and a cappuccino at a bar in Piazza Navona. This book is no different.

It seems that Ms. Cornwell had been very thorough in her interviews and research, asking detailed questions about who would be responsible for the case of a murdered girl found in a tub full of ice. How old would he or she be, what grade or level, what kind of characteristics and character. Despite what seemed at the time an open mind to accepting that there would be differences in mentality, local resources and law systems given that Italy is not the US, she still managed to offend by sticking to the old Italian stereotypes by setting Captain Poma up as a vain and argumentative latin lover who even flashes a red lined cape at one point -- something a carabinieri would never do outside of official occasions.

What really got this Italian book reviewer's goat was that the main character Kay Scarpetta, feels it necessary to explain to her Italian colleague, Captain Poma, that the expression "livor mortis" is Latin and not English!

Offending an Italian at his most intimate cultural roots.

a domani,


nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

My novel is set in Rome but hopefully people will see it as a balanced view of the city with more developed local characters.

Did you read Grisham's "Playing for Pizza?". What did you think of it?

What about "Eat, Pray,Love"?

RomeLover said...

as someone who has some experience in the professional backgrounds of characters in Pat Cornwall's novels, I don't see that she much cares about "truth," and goes for literary license.

But, I also take exception when she insults Italy and Italians....