Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Korean Deli

  • The Book: My Korean Deli

  • The Author: Ben Ryder Howe

  • The Dealio: Editor for the obscure literary magazine (helmed by George Plimpton) Paris Review, Howe inexplicably finds himself doing something that makes no sense, challenges his physical and mental strength, and threatens to throw him upon the tender mercies of the justice system. He, his wife, Gab, and mother-in-law, Kay, buy a deli in Brooklyn (NOTE: This review is based upon an audio book, narrated by Bronson Pinchot, quite possibly one of the very best readers of books-on-audio, like, ever. I can not recommend this version highly enough). What ensues is a tale that reads like fiction but is not, full of smarty-pants commentary, verbal snapshots of family, denizens of the deli, Plimpton, (who knew he liked to wander around his town home where the PR was located, in his boxers?), staff at the deli-even casual encounters with snotty, upper-crust phone-sales reps and off-beat delivery guys. But there is also poignancy and even terror to be had as the Paks and Howe struggle to come to grips with what it takes to face the world from the other side of the deli counter.

  • The Grading Session: 4.89 pengies out of 5. A little pengie-age was deducted because the final few pages of the books could easily have been editted out and the story would still have felt complete and fulfilling. Editor's choice, I spoze. Again, I reiterate that, while this books would be bound to be entertaining as read from the written page, I doubt it would have the zing and spirit of the read word- hats off to Mr. Pinchot. Otherwise, I have only praise for a wonderful engaging, goofily-enchanting little book.

  • Lessons Learned: Never agree to divy up your payments for the cost of a deli between a cashier's check to a third party you have never met, who recently relocated to an inaccessible island- and the rest in monetary units of a hitherto unknown country- 'someplace in Europe, I think'- to his wife's second cousin who just got out of prison. Also this: if someone tells you the minimum order of something is $1000, for heaven's sake, make sure you take into account who your clientele is. And go light on the Bonne Maman preserves and hot sauces. Lastly this: Kinda wish I had had the opportunity to work for George P. Sounds like the kind of really odd-ball, non-conformist, creative environment which would have been such a great experience. For about 1-2 days. Max. After that, it would probably have me baying at the moon...or opening a deli.

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