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Words Without Borders

Where Does Krispy Kreme Fit In?

A while ago, I did a blog on this creepy feeling that I somehow didn't get American culture despite being in New York for more than ten years.
A review by John Leonard in the New York Review of Books in which the Krispy Kreme Doughnut had a small but crucial part made me realize that I had no idea what the Krispy Kreme Doughnut stands for. If it was a metaphor, I didn’t get it.
Of course, after that episode, I ate a few Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, which made me much less sick than the rack of lamb at Park Bistro, but still the feeling that some crucial parts of American culture were lost on me didn’t go away completely.
It’s time to update my relationship with American Culture.
During my last event at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, a woman in the audience asked, “Don’t you have enough of American culture after ten years in New York?” This question was rather new to me, so I mumbled that I did travel a lot, but of course the only right answer would have been, “What exactly do you mean with American culture? Come on, you live in Sydney do you think you experience Australian culture all day long?” Back in New York, I went to the movies and saw Down in the Valley, which according to some critics, was a poignant critical statement on American culture.
I did like Down in the Valley, but now again I felt left out regarding the American culture.
If I got this movie right, American culture is defined by a trigger-happy cowboy or pseudo-cowboy with a healthy appetite for slightly underaged girls.
My question is, where does the Krispy Kreme fit in? The cowboy, played by Mr. Norton, didn’t eat any doughnuts; he could hardly finish his hamburger.
If this didn’t make me feel lonely enough, the next day I read on the first page of the Art Section of the NY Times an article about Jennifer Aniston.
There was this quote, “And it was less than a year ago that women in Los Angeles wore T-shirts reading 'Team Aniston,' sympathizing with her as a real-life good girl dumped by that cad Brad Pitt for the femme fatale from 'Team Jolie.' "
That Mr. Pitt and Ms. Aniston had hooked up in the past was completely new to me. If I have to keep track with who hooks up with whom, there will be no time for writing books.
As of today, I would summarize American culture like this: if I get dumped by a Krispy Kreme Doughnut, people in upstate New York will wear t-shirts reading “Team Grunberg.” Because nobody deserves being dumped by Krispy Kreme. Not even me.


(Words Without Borders, June 12, 2006)