“It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it.”
In California, two brothers ages 20 and 15, murdered their mother and then cut off her head and hands, after which they were seen trying to unload a package with a foot sticking out of it into a dumpster. Her body was later found in a ravine; her head and hands were discovered in the boys’ bedroom. She had been heard screaming at her younger son about house-work—and then there was silence. The boys got the idea from the last episode of the fourth season of The Sopranos, in which Ralphie Cifarello is killed by Tony Soprano and then relieved of his head and hands to make identification difficult. Though there seems to have been a rush to blame television—specifically, The Sopranos—for this crime, I have a different interpretation: No mother, whether living in California or not, should, in the present environment, raise her voice at her son about housework—or anything else, for that matter. (Am I the only person who remembers the Menendez brothers?)
Shown on HBO for the last four years, The Sopranos has been a megahit. The series has attracted a devoted audience and given rise to extended commentary and analysis. These books address themselves...