True Colors | Year In Review | Chicago Reader

True Colors 

Journalist Joe Klein caused a furor this year by denying that he'd written Primary Colors, his undisguised fictional account of the Clinton campaign.

Curiously, there was no outrage directed at Klein's writing--even though his fictional world is populated by racial, sexual, ageist, and regional stereotypes. Misogynistic descriptions dominate the book. Klein's female characters are considered with a hypercritical eye: clothes first, physique second, a few facial features last if at all. Here's a sampling.

A librarian who has a quickie with the Clinton character (page 4): "She was middle-aged, pushing fifty, hair dyed auburn to blot the gray, unexceptional except for her legs, which were shocking, a gift from God."

A blue-collar African-American teen whom the Clinton character is accused of inseminating (page 40): "Loretta was their daughter, the sort of girl who was destined for obesity--you could see it coming in her upper arms, her thighs--but, for the moment, deeply, adolescently luscious."

A friend of the Hillary character (pages 61-62): "Richard would have despised her even if she weren't dowdy and awful, even if she didn't always wear power suits and running shoes and Gloria Steinem aviators, even if she wasn't always rousting around in her purse for her compact, fussing with her hair, pulling out lipstick and applying it in the most ridiculous manner, squeezing her puckered lips around it, rolling it around once, twice, then saying--always--'There!'"

A gay woman hired by the campaign to do opposition research (page 95): "Olivia Holden was wearing, I swear, a tan down vest, an orange-and-green tie-dyed muumuu and an Aussie outback hat. She was enormous, with fierce, piercing blue eyes, hair turning gray, skin that was waxy pale and translucent in a sickly way."

A hairdresser who accuses the Clinton character of having a covert affair (page 127): "Then, Cashmere: a puffy, chunky, bulldoggy woman--curly dark hair, not long; breasts, but no waist; and legs, abruptly short but shapely--she seemed intermittently alluring, sexy in sections."

The mother of the woman the narrator/Klein loves (page 280): "She wore a high-necked, embroidered --red and black on white cotton--Russian-style narodniki blouse; a floor-length black Indian skirt with elaborate creweled flowers in horizontal bands; and a multicolored Andean (or perhaps African) bandana, which covered her head. . . . She was wearing dangly Mexican silver and turqoise earrings. The immediate effect was . . . too much."

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