Sunday, August 02, 2009

to be an American

“Sarah!” she called. “Sarah, do come and meet young Mr. Mathews, who wants to be called Warren.”

A tall, pretty girl turned from a group of other drinkers to smile at him, extending her hand, but when Marjorie Blaine said “He’s an American,” the girl’s smile froze and her hand fell.

“Oh,” she said. “How nice.” And she turned away again.

It wasn’t a good time to be an American in London. Eisenhower had been elected and the Rosenbergs killed; Joseph McCarthy was on the rise, and the war in Korea, with its reluctant contingent of British troops, had come to seem as if it might last forever.

--Richard Yates, “Liars in Love,” 1981

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