Thursday, February 4, 2010
Not So Sentimental Journey
If you could go back to any period of time, which would it be and why?
Well, as of this writing I'd probably go back to the second before the Amazon finger (and we know which one) pushed the button last Friday and blacklisted all Macmillan authors.
Just kidding ... sort of. ;)
I've spent time in Rome and Greece -- when I served time in the Ivory Tower. Nice place to visit, and I love to write about the period, but I'm like Josh--I also enjoy modern amenities (like bourbon). Besides, anchovy sauce doesn't tickle my taste buds. ;)
The 30s and 40s, however, have always been a time in which I felt like I belonged. It was a passionate generation, people who believed in the power of political action, not just disengagement. Even in the bleakest financial sink hole in the history of our nation, there was still strong optimism in technology and progress and some sort of doctrine to pull us up and out.
Unfortunately, for some people that doctrine was fascism and national socialism--because it's always been easier to blame a group of people you can persecute than it is to blame politicians.
But it was still a time of political and cultural engagement, when opera was on the radio and Toscanini had an orchestra at NBC ... a time of world's fairs and hope for utopia ... a kind of optimism that seemed to die out in '63, with the assassination of JFK.
In 1939, America was still basically either rural and urban, without the encroaching ennui of suburbia that fills many a 50s film noir. New York had the Stork Club, the Cafe Rouge, where Glenn Miller played for NBC radio, and stockings were made of silk. Architecture--and design even in common objects--was beautiful. And you could buy an Action Comics #1 for 10 cents ...
I've spent a lot of time in 1940--February, 1940, for City of Dragons, and now May of 1940 for the sequel, which I have to really focus on as soon as the tour is done (I'm on my way from Seattle to Portland by the time you read this on Thursday). And I'd love to travel back, for a day, for a week ... looking for the lost beauty, braced for the ugliness behind it.
A sentimental journey without the sentiment ... which is what I tried to write in City of Dragons. And, of course, ten cents in my pocket for that Action Comics #1. :)
Thanks for reading!