I’m looking out my window at a few yellow leaves that cling to bedraggled branches. I’m wearing a thick jacket because I have no income and I have to save heating costs so I can afford to eat. My hands are numb with cold as I revise my stack of short stories and write this post. “Cyber Monday” has thankfully passed as the feeding frenzy ensues toward a fiscal freefall. For me, a smart phone is out of the question.I am nearly finished reading a used copy of Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson, which is an ode to impermanence.
A glop of anger sloshes perpetually around and bumps against my insides about countless things like the $165 billion in food that Americans waste every year, like the loss of entire species like caribou, salmon, lions, elephants. Like the willful denial of the earth’s climate change. Like the…Someone stop me from banging on for hours here. Thank you.
Why am I writing all this on a blog that aspires to explore the experience of writing fiction? I think it has to do with memory and image which are at the heart of all fiction. Unfortunately for the planet they also comprise the heart of American advertising and manufactured scarcity (although not much, including scarcity, is manufactured here any more) which yields consumption. The quickest way to the American wallet is through image and memory.
The image of Twinkies is all about romance and image and memory (nostalgia for a non-existent past), an American icon like dad driving on a family vacation, like a refrigerator filled with food, like a writer bent over a typewriter. The name “Hostess” (which began in the 1930s) is so kitschy 1950s, and the blond Twinkies oozing cream from their centers so suggestive, and the empty calories so a part of so many people’s empty childhoods. Like so many acquired brands (Nabisco, for example) that discontinued nostalgia and its products that you can’t buy now at any price.
There is something so fragile, so sadly transient about image and memory. The Hostess Brand, like so many other things, is in liquidation at this writing. It is the end of an era and there are no images or memories for an end-run. It is over. Finished. Yet memory and longing outlive us all.