Edward R. Boone sat in an office studded with prize animal heads on his West Texas ranch and considered how he might attain his previous levels of influence. Without prospects and expectations, he felt he might as well die. Oil had become a moribund enterprise. While there was still a remarkable demand, the tide was turning. And although it had taken decades to realize the conversion, things now would move very quickly. People were purchasing cars that required electricity at night, cars that ran on only half gas, that burned a composite of brown rice and soy beans.There would soon be no room for petroleum. The only place he could consistently export his product now was Mexico and the more indigent parts of South America, where residents still used automobiles from decades before. But his returns there were minimal. His rigs and refineries would soon have to be dismantled.

Where are you from?

Right now? I live in Weirton, West Virginia (West Virginia, frequently the brunt of many a bad joke, is its own state, and I still am asked, “Where in Virginia are you?”). Weirton is a dying steel town not far from Pittsburgh, and my husband and I go there often. I write art reviews for the City Paper there as well. But there’s a very different landscape here than I grew up with. There are dynamited rock faces, soot-blackened mills, and ominous-looking power plants that, by night, glow pink with sodium vapor lights. And there are slots parlors…lots and lots of slots parlors—and race tracks, dogs in Wheeling and ponies in Chester. It seems different and exotic to me because I grew up in a more agrarian part of central Pennsylvania, where the colors were not so much black and brown but green and gold.