Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Korean Deli: Risking It All for a Convenience Store

My Korean Deli: Risking it All for a Convenience Store
by Ben Ryder Howe
Henry Holt, 2010. 304 pgs. Nonfiction.

Owning a deli turns out to be (to paraphrase Jules Feiffer) a ball of laughs and a vale of tears, especially when the owners are a senior Paris Review editor, his corporate lawyer wife, and his mother-in-law, "the Mike Tyson of Korean grandmothers." Howe's story of how he and his wife's family get into the bodega business is filled with humor, memorable anecdote, unforgettable people and the kinetic energy of having way too many things to do at once. "My Korean Deli" is not only funny but tender, as are all tales about very unlike people who come to care for one another--Puritan blue-blood New Englander and Korean immigrant grandmother in a neon orange Costa Rican tank top; giant black store clerk wearing Oshkosh overalls and packing heat and the diminutive HVAC repairman who rarely speaks but relentlessly sings. A sparkly gem of a book, and with George Plimpton, too.


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