The Queen Mary main lounge, c. 1950


This picture disturbs me because, except for the ashtrays and cigarettes, this room from sixty years ago could be today. If I were writing about a 1950 room, would I be so busy with the differences from the present that I’d miss the possibility of a very large sameness? Time and place are the writer’s problems, and the readers’. I read Raymond Chandler and can’t recognize the L.A. he knew. I write about my hometown, Fullerton, California, and realize people who live there now won’t recognize the markets, drugstores, restaurants, and the like that my 1971 characters frequent.

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