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While other authors continued to write about the fighting, Le Luu focused on the effects of the war at home. A Time Far Past would be the culmination of this theme. As life slowly began to stabilize after 1980, like many writers in Viet Nam, Le Luu began to look back over the past with a fresh eye. " Le Luu wished now to write of the war from the perspective of the individual, from the point of view of people who had their own private thoughts, hopes, and aspirations. He wished as well to write of the lingering effects of the old feudal society and of the war with the French, an event that had never been fully integrated or absorbed.

She could pound the middle of the mortar with such force that she could create a vortex sucking all the kernels to the center, preventing them from spilling out. What's more, "the little girl" could do all this with the same easy rhythm as an adult. Every day, when the shadow of the house reached the row of bricks on the threshold, Sai, whether he was studying or playing, ran in to dry the corn that had been soaking in hot water all night. Then he waited until his wife asked him to scrape the corn fragments on the mortar brim while she pounded.

In retrospect, this neglect is striking. Here was a mass of peasants, living within a regime based on the agrarian cycle. The triumph of the Viet Minh and the coming to power of the Communist Party brought land transfers, universal education, and promotion of people from the "basic social class" into positions of authority. At the same time, powerful lines of continuity bound the Revolution to the old order. " There was more than a passing resemblance between the local notables of traditional Vietnam on the one hand and the cadres of the new regime on the other, a continuity noted by scholars and evoked by Le Luu as well.

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