Of all the advice that Horace Sinclair received from his fellow Owossoeans – those self-interested widows; the young matrons aside from Mrs. Feller; the men his own age (usually “cardiac” patients full of frightened optimism about the new regime Dr. Hume had them on) – the piece he most disliked was the injunction against “living so much in the past.” It always assumed that the past, while perhaps not a bad place, was too easy a spot for anyone to live in; that abiding there was an “escape” that didn’t challenge the mind, which left it as vulnerable as all those septuagenarian hearts. Whereas Horace knew that living in the past demanded much more effort than living in the here and now. As it receded ever further, the past required more and more work for a man to keep up with it, ever greater imaginative stamina to keep chasing it down the tracks. The present asked no more than that he get aboard and take a window seat. Living there showed nothing like a proper regard for life or time; it made them both disposable, like the magazines that had stolen their names. The past was the present treasured and enhanced, an object needing the same care as the late Mrs. Sinclair’s silver tea service, the one she had received from her sister in Boston, in 1900, as a wedding present. Horace continued to apply the pink polish to it every Saturday, even though he had never been able to stand the smell through all the decades of his marriage.
Thomas Mallon, Dewey Defeats Truman