[...] Outside, the sky was cloudless and nicked with random dull stars, their contextualizing constellations obscured by light and dust pollution. The Texas Panhandle was in year five of a drought that might soon be upgraded to permanent climate change. Instead of April snow-melt, dust.
[...] To drive east on Amarillo Boulevard was to pass, in quick succession, the high-security Clements Unit prison complex, the McCaskill meat-processing facility, and the Pantex nuclear-weapons plant, three massive installations more alike than different in their brute utility and sodium-vapor lighting. In the rearview mirror were the evangelical churches, the Tea Party precincts, the Whataburgers. Ahead, the gas and oil wells, the fracking rigs, the overgrazed ranges, the feedlots, the depleted aquifer. Every facet of Amarillo a testament to a nation of bad-ass firsts: first in prison population, first in meat consumption, first in operational strategic warheads, first in per-capita carbon emissions, first in line for the Rapture. Whether American liberals liked it or not, Amarillo was how the rest of the world saw their country.
Leila liked it. She came from the blue part of Texas, and from a time when the blue part was larger, but she still loved the whole state, not just San Antonio and the Gulf-softened winters and the burning green of the mesquite in spring but the in-your-face ugliness of the red parts. The embrace of ugliness; the eager manufacture of it; the capacity of Texan pride to see beauty in it. And the exceptional courtesy of the drivers, the enduring apartness of the old republic, the assurance of being a shining example to the nation. Texans looked down on the other foty-nine states with a gracious kind of pity.
Jonathan Franzen, Purity, s. 171-173