Frame of Reference by John McPhee in the New Yorker, 9 March 2015

This article is an excerpt from Frame of Reference, an article in McPhee's on-again-off again series The Writing Life.

" . . . we have come upon a topic of first importance in the making of a piece of writing: its frame of reference, the things and people you choose to allude to in order to advance its comprehensibility. Mention Beyonce and everyone knows who she is. Mention Veronica Lake and you might as well be in the Quetico-Superior. Obviously if you mention New York, you can count on most readers to know what that is and where. Mention Vernal Corners and you can't. It's upstate. What would you do with Scarsdale? Do you need to say where it is? Step van, Stanley Steamer, black-and-white unit, goose-neck trailer. If you know what a goose-neck trailor is, raise your hand.

Veronica Lake (November 14, 1922 – July 7, 1973) actress

Quetico Superior - boundary waters of Lake Superior  between Minnesota and Ontario