As a result of these Ngram figures, I decided to expand my keywords to include other phrases that appear frequently with in Wallace’s text: substance abuse, NA, and AA. The frequency chart that followed demonstrated that the use of these words in published texts rose from the 1970s and even peaked during the period of substance and narcotic abuse prevention in the late 1980s and early 90s.
Silly as it sounds, it’s strange to think of the 40s as a period with its own people who had their own worries, their own happinesses, their own day-to-day lives. It’s always just been “that period of war” when my grandpa was a kid. To read Vivian’s letters was to see this period as more than that, as a period with a life and a zeitgeist all its own. It was to give life to something that had always just been a range of dates and World War II to me.