I just found this photograph on my hard drive. I don’t know where it came from; I have no memory of seeing it before. It is a low-resolution image, grainy and shadowed. Three men on a bench: one wearing a suit and tie (you can almost make out the time on his wristwatch); one slouching in a white T-shirt; one with a cigarette in his left hand. Looking at the picture makes my heart pound.

I never met any of them (they died in 1957, 1987, and 1984), but I recognize their faces. A Hungarian, an American, a Pole. They appear in at least three of my books (prominently or in passing). I don’t know who made the photograph or when (maybe a reader can tell me)—except that once you know who they are, you know exactly where they are and you know the date, or pretty close.

There’s something awesome about a random glimpse into history. It’s just a point in spacetime. I’d give a lot to be a fly on the wall.


Find me in the open social web (fediverse; Mastodon): @JamesGleick@zirk.us

Literary agent:
Michael Carlisle
at Inkwell Management,
521 Fifth Ave.,
New York 10175.

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