Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hunger

Relating to the Walter Aske piece at whenfallsthecoliseum.com, Knut Hamsun's Hunger is another one of my favorites on the themes of starvation, haves and havenots, and burning desire of any kind. I own the Robert Bly translation but believe there is a new version with an introduction by Paul Auster.

Although I have never starved on the streets of Scandinavia (or anywhere for that matter), I did live rather modestly on bread and peanut butter and occasional treats or five-franc bottles of wine in the fall of 1989. I was lucky enough to have purchased a two-month eurorail pass and would use night trains for hotel rooms when not splurging on a bunk at a youth hostel. I saw little of Scandinavia but did visit Denmark, where I met an American man living quite well on his girlfriend's couch. He would spend his days scrounging the streets of Copenhagen for Carlsberg beer bottles that he would then exchange for coins to support his Christiana spending habits. Such an audacious lifestyle eludes me to this day.

In this region of the United States, it is still difficult to see the food deprivation we can read about. What seems more apparent is the possible lack of nutrition accompanying the local obesity which is of course linked to our national wealth of poverty. Obama declines to predict how high unemployment will go, but it's getting to the point where we will experience collective shock the next time America posts a positive note on jobs growth. Down here, we can listen to Rush Limbaugh and Neil Bortz protect the wallet of the disenfranchised wealthy (did I hear Rush call the rich man "poor"?) on several different loud radio stations, but it seems evident that anyone with food in the pantry and some daily toil has a lot to be grateful for.

Happy Bastille Day.

If you plan to eat cake, be sure it is moist and iced and not the blackened stuff stuck to the top of your oven.

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