Highlights from The Real Housewives of Yoknapatawpha County

Nathan Pensky:

Episode 19: Nancy Mannigoe mutters “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus gonna kill me” over and over while washing the Compson children’s sheets. Mrs. Compson pats her arm and asks her to be quiet.

Episode 24: The ghosts of Ellen and Rosa Coldfield visit Caddy Compson. They try to stroke her hair while she sits dozing on the porch swing. Caddy awakens and thinks it was Benjy stroking her hair. She scolds him, and he cries. Quentin makes Benjy stop crying by setting a wagon on fire.

Everything is the same, and intellectually you understand that. But the world is completely different — for *you*. Everybody has changed their relationship to you, but you still live in the same world. So when people talk about the surreality of fame, that’s what they’re talking about. The world is one degree stranger. It’s not like the houses have suddenly turned to gingerbread and you go, ‘Oh, it wasn’t like that before.’ You live in the same house, you go to the same market, you get coffee in the same place. It’s just that somebody has hired an unlimited amount of extras and given them very specific directions — for you. It’s as if a director has gotten there before you and grabbed a bullhorn and said, ‘Okay, when he comes in, if your name begins with A through M, count to ten and then notice him. N through Z, notice him right away.’ It’s very strange.
The Second Biggest Star in a Remote Little Burg Somewhere in Germany

Hillary's Nightmare? A Democratic Party That Realizes Its Soul Lies With Elizabeth Warren

Noam Scheiber:

During her very first banking committee hearing, Warren again waited patiently for her turn to speak—then promptly set off a national furor. “Tell me a little bit about the last few times you’ve taken the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street all the way to a trial,” she asked a table full of bank regulators. The question, though eminently reasonable, violated an unstated rule of committee protocol, in which members of Congress are allowed to rant and rave at length but generally abstain from humiliating appointees, especially from their own party.

An awkward pause ensued, at which point Warren flared her eyes and thrust her head forward, as if to say, “Yes, this is really happening.” Until that instant, the regulators believed the world worked one way; suddenly, it was working another. One winced hemorrhoidally as he searched for a place to fix his gaze. The head of an agency called the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) appeared to whimper before allowing that the threat of trial was unnecessary for keeping the banks in check—about as counterfactual a notion as the industry has ever produced. A third regulator chimed in affirmatively. For a few minutes, Warren looked like the only sane person in a mental ward.

Dr. Don

Peter Hessler:

Jenks grew up in Salt Lake City, but he has spent most of his working life in small towns. “Maybe I can describe it this way,” he says. “I like to play chess. I moved to a small town, and nobody played chess there, but one guy challenged me to checkers. I always thought it was kind of a simple game, but I accepted. And he beat me nine or ten games in a row. That’s sort of like living in a small town. It’s a simpler game, but it’s played to a higher level.” Jenks says that he is forced to have “a working relationship” with local methamphetamine users, treating their ailments in confidence. He explains that small towns might have a reputation for being closed-minded, but actually residents often learn to be nonjudgmental, because contact is so intense. “Someday I might be on the side of the road, and the person who pulls me out is going to be a meth user,” Jenks says. “The circle is much tighter.” He believes there is less gossip than one would assume, simply because so much is already known.

It would be harder to accurately imagine what New York City was like the day before the advent of broadcast television than to imagine what it will be like after life-size broadcast holography comes online. But actually the New York without the television is more mysterious, because we’ve already been there and nobody paid any attention. That world is gone. My great-grandfather was born into a world where there was no recorded music. It’s very, very difficult to conceive of a world in which there is no possibility of audio recording at all. Some people were extremely upset by the first Edison recordings. It nauseated them, terrified them. It sounded like the devil, they said, this evil unnatural technology that offered the potential of hearing the dead speak. We don’t think about that when we’re driving somewhere and turn on the radio. We take it for granted.
The Art of Fiction No. 211, William Gibson