While much has been made of the call and response to Jeff Goldstein’s ode to vagina-Americans (who Jeff thinks are sad because they have no cock with which to slap) I think it is illuminating to spelunk ever deeper into the Goldstein oeuvre in order to consider a portrait of an artist as a hungry young man who is torn between the all consuming passion of youth and a visit to Subway. Shhh. Attention must be paid:
Sometimes, too, he thought of hillsides. As a child his father would take him up steep inclines, would motion to the sky, would show him where God lived. Now, most days after school he’d drive with friends to a sandwich shop, have a footlong turkey sub on a whole wheat roll, gaze absently at freshly chopped fixings glistening in stainless steel buckets behind the sneeze guard. On these occasions he could imagine himself becoming his father; with watering mouth he’d given silent thanks for green pepper slices and fresh tomatoes, for the terrestrial wonder of black and green olive wedges, for rings of red onion. Mayonnaise and bits of moist bread collected in his molars, mortared in place by the plastered chew of potato chips, a paste of salt and dough. On Fridays, Rachel would meet him here after work, her lips stained a faint, sweet green from wheat grass juice, and they would drive to a sunny stretch of hill about seven miles out in the country. On a soft plaid blanket, she’d lay herself open to him, her legs taut, and he’d maneuver himself over her, rest between her on raw kneecaps, kiss honey (or when all else failed, Diet Dr. Pepper) from her smallish breasts. Breathless after, she’d dart half-formed stories into the air; and he, for his part, would half-listen, would stroke her nipples, brown, braised, obliquely alive — large flat saucers glazed with his own saliva and hard with the ghost of his tongue. Home, he’d change his clothes and move languidly to the garage, watch his father mutter strange words over sandpaper and wood. It was his father’s halting, breathy music which drew him here — his father’s song. His father prayed so often, he told the boy once, because heaven is everywhere. God is everywhere.
One imagines the author agonizing over the choices that he must make in order to deliver these young lovers to their fate since they have no free will of their own and, if they did, they would probably rather be in an Ethan Canin short story or even a Danielle Steele novel because the post-story gift bags are way nicer. Should Isaac go with the “whole wheat roll” signifying earthiness and the heartland, or possibly “sour dough bread” redolent of San Francisco liberalism. Ahh! “Rye bread“! No. No…. Too jewish even if leavened with “mayonnaise“; that sweet holy manna of the WASPS. No. It is the “whole wheat roll” (and a “footlong” one at that, hubba-hubba) that sets the tone for the harvest of “fixings“, those vegetables and fruits (because tomatoes are a fruit, you know) that speak to us of fecundity and the loamy earth from which life germinates in heat and moisture. Oh, and also “plowing the field” if you know what I mean and I think you do.
We could go further but I think you take my point that writing, like grocery shopping, should never be done when hungry.
Got an appetite for writing? First, have a Hot Pocket™.