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  • Writer's pictureM. Laszlo

The Phantom Glare of Day - Background of the Book


The Phantom Glare of Day follows from a youthful diary that I wrote while traveling through England in the summer of 1985. It’s hard to describe the book as a typical travel diary, though. The work was more like an idea book filled with descriptions, impressions, philosophical questions, and lists of words, British colloquialisms, and a whole lot of teenage angst thrown in for good measure.

            In many respects, the diary represented the first time that it had ever occurred to me to really think about the question of good and evil or right and wrong. Many teenagers were thinking about such things that summer because that summer happened to be the summer of the Live-Aid concerts in both the United Kingdom and the United States. In a way, too, the famine in Ethiopia forced teenagers around the world to confront the idea of saviorism. Even then, many cynical and sensible youths looked askance at Bob Geldof’s philanthropic endeavors. There was a pessimistic sense that no matter how much money the concerts raised, the funds would probably never reach the people struggling to survive the famine. 

            Perhaps the best thing about that summer is that at least young people were thinking about something besides their own personal issues. Say what you will about the arrogance of saviorism, nevertheless, both the famine in Ethiopia and the musicians’ response really rattled many otherwise self-absorbed youths—and the harrowing events in Africa forced people to question their own narcissism. That can’t possibly have been a bad thing.

            Finally, when turning my idea book into a collection of novellas, the events of that summer forced me to forgo any talk of famine and to set the stories in the WW-I era. The question is why, and the answer is simple: to have exploited the famine would have been immoral—a sin far worse than saviorism.

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