Brenda Cooper

Place and Time in Story

I saw Cabaret at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle last week.  Although I have seen the movie, this was the first time I’d seen the play staged.  It was fabulous.  I also gave some thought as to why it has been such an enduring story.  Many works about the same time period have stayed with us.  The Sound of Music, Sophie’s Choice, Schindler’s List, The Diary of Anne Frank, Casablanca, Evita, and more.  I read a huge nonfiction book as a child – The Third Reich, maybe the only history book I picked up all by myself around fifth or sixth grade. 

We’re told to set our books in interesting places at interesting times, and I suspect World War II is one of the most interesting historical periods.  Here is why I think it has so fascinated us:

·         It included the Holocaust and the Bomb, two unthinkable moments

·         That war close enough to us in time that we can still feel it (compared to say, the battle for Troy)

·         At least now, it feels more black and white than recent wars, as if there was a good side and a bad side (and there probably was).