Category Archives: Background Performers

Golden Land
Part One

by William Faulkner

Nobel Prize-winning author and screenwriter William Faulkner wrote one short story about Hollywood: a 1930s real estate tycoon is driven to drink after his daughter becomes a scandalous starlet. First of two parts. 3,555 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.

If he had been thirty, he would not have needed the two aspirin tablets and the half glass of raw gin before 8547D799-C475-4659-B563-17A9A283F8B3he could bear the shower’s needling on his body and steady his hands to shave. But then when he had been thirty neither could he have afforded to drink as much each evening as he now drank; certainly he would not have done it in the company of the men and the women in which, at forty-eight, he did each evening, even though knowing during the very final hours filled with the breaking of glass and the shrill cries of drunken women above the drums and saxophones the hours during which he carried a little better than his weight both in the amount of liquor consumed and in the number and sum of checks paid that six or eight hours later he would rouse from what had not been sleep at all but instead that dreamless stupefaction of alcohol out of which last night’s turgid and licensed uproar would die, as though without any interval for rest or recuperation, into the familiar shape of his bedroom, the bed’s foot silhouetted by the morning light which entered the bougainvillaea-bound windows beyond which his painful and almost unbearable eyes could see the view which might be called the monument to almost twenty-five years of industry and desire, of shrewdness and luck and even fortitude: the opposite canyon-flank dotted with the white villas half hidden in imported olive groves or friezed by the sombre spaced columns of cypress like the facades of eastern temples, whose owners’ names and faces and even voices were glib and familiar in back corners of the United States and of America and of the world where those of Einstein and Rousseau and Esculapius had never sounded.

He didn’t waken sick. He never wakened ill nor became ill from drinking, not only because he had drunk too long and too steadily for that, but because he was too tough even after the thirty soft years; he came from too tough stock, on that day thirty-four years ago when at fourteen he had fled, on the brake-beam of a west-bound freight, the little lost Nebraska town named for, permeated with, his father’s history and existence, a town to be sure, but only in the sense that any shadow is larger than the object which casts it. It was still frontier even as he remembered it at five and six: the projected and increased shadow of a small outpost of sod-roofed dugouts on the immense desolation of the plains where his father, Ira Ewing too, had been first to essay to wring wheat during the six days between those when, outdoors in spring and summer and in the fetid half dark of a snowbound dugout in the winter and fall, he preached. The second Ira Ewing had come a long way since then, from that barren and treeless village which he had fled by a night freight to where he now lay in a hundred-thousand-dollar house, waiting until he knew that he could rise and go to the bath and put the two aspirin tablets into his mouth.

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Pauline’s Adventure
On The Silver Screen

by Anne Goursaud

An impoverished and naïve student is tempted by film acting. Will she succeed or fail? 2,434 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.

Paris – 1966

Pauline was a young girl.

A busy and broke young girl.

Hustling and bustling from class to class, and working at temp jobs to make ends meet.

One day, Dimitry Fedotoff, a friend who worked as a still photographer on movie sets, announced he had a brilliant solution to Pauline’s financial woes. He had just been hired to shoot an American movie about World War II France at the Boulogne Billancourt Studio. He had learned the production was about to cast French prostitutes as extras, loads and loads of them. He thought Pauline had a great chance to be cast.

“You’re a pretty girl. You could play a prostitute,” he said.

“What exactly do you mean?” Pauline answered, slightly hurt that he could so easily imagine her playing a Lady Of The Night.

“You’re sexy — but you know that. Anyway, you could make more money than you’re are at your meaningless office work.”

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Golden Land
Part Two

by William Faulkner

Nobel Prize-winning author and screenwriter William Faulkner concludes his short story about a Hollywood scandal: the 1930s tycoon goes to court where his starlet daughter is on trial. Last of two parts. 5,129 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.

His mother lived in Glendale; it was the house which he had taken when he married and later bought, in which his son and daughter had been born a bungalow in a cul-desac of pepper trees and flowering shrubs and vines which the Japanese tended, backed into a barren foothill combed and curried into a cypress-and-marble cemetery dramatic as a stage set and topped by an electric sign in red bulbs which, in the San Fernando valley fog, glared in broad sourceless ruby as though just beyond the crest lay not heaven but hell. The length of his sports model car in which the Filipino sat reading a paper dwarfed it. But she would have no other, just as she would have neither servant, car, nor telephone: a gaunt spare slightly stooped woman upon whom even California and ease had put no flesh, sitting in one of the chairs which she had insisted on bringing all the way from Nebraska. At first she had been content to allow the Nebraska furniture to remain in storage, since it had not been needed (when Ira moved his wife and family out of the house and into the second one, the intermediate one, they had bought new furniture too, leaving the first house furnished complete for his mother) but one day, he could not recall just when, he discovered that she had taken the one chair out of storage and was using it in the house. Later, after he began to sense that quality of unrest in her, he had suggested that she let him clear the house of its present furniture and take all of hers out of storage but she declined, apparently preferring or desiring to leave the Nebraska furniture where it was. Sitting so, a knitted shawl about her shoulders, she looked less like she lived in or belonged to the house, the room, than the son with his beach burn and his faintly theatrical gray temples and his bright expensive suavely antiphonal garments did. She had changed hardly at all in the thirty-four years; she and the older Ira Ewing too, as the son remembered him, who, dead, had suffered as little of alteration as while he had been alive. As the sod Nebraska outpost had grown into a village and then into a town, his father’s aura alone had increased, growing into the proportions of a giant who at some irrevocable yet recent time had engaged barehanded in some titanic struggle with the pitiless earth and endured and in a sense conquered it too, like the town, a shadow out of all proportion to the gaunt gnarled figure of the actual man. And the actual woman too as the son remembered them back in that time.

Two people who drank air and who required to eat and sleep as he did and who had brought him into the world, yet were strangers as though of another race, who stood side by side in an irrevocable loneliness as though strayed from another planet, not as husband and wife but as blood brother and sister, even twins, of the same travail because they had gained a strange peace through fortitude and the will and strength to endure.

"Tell me again what it is," she said. "I’ll try to understand."

"So it was Kazimura that showed you the damned paper," he said. She didn’t answer this; she was not looking at him.

"You tell me she has been in the pictures before, for two years. That that was why she had to change her name, that they all have to change their names."

"Yes. They call them extra parts. For about two years, God knows why."

"And then you tell me that this that all this was so she could get into the pictures "

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