Joan Didion, arguably the best essayist of the late 20th century, has a short piece on Salon about the current election. She believe that all of the campaign noise — candidate's personal "stories," the "lipstick on a pig" repetition, the regurgitated talking points — has distracted us from the serious peril the country is facing. "We could forget that we ourselves induced the coma, by indulging the government in its fantasy of absolute power, wielded absolutely. So general is this fantasy by now that we approach this election with no clear idea where bottom is: what damage has been done, what alliances have been formed and broken, what concealed reefs lie ahead. Whoever we elect president is about to find some of that out," says Didion. Her next book, a collection of nonfiction called We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, is out next month. [Salon]