Paula Gallagher's Reviews > My Korean Deli: Risking It All for a Convenience Store

My Korean Deli by Ben Ryder Howe
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's review
Mar 07, 2011

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Read in March, 2011

A light, popcorn read. Howe breezily walks us through the trials of an enterprise foisted on him by his Korean wife Gab and her mother Kay. Never fully invested (psychically, physically) in the scheme to open a Korean deli in New York City and reap the profits, Howe is able to keep some cool remove in his storytelling. He's an editor working for George Plimpton at The Paris Review who is mystified by the workings of the cash register, his clientele's fondness for really bad 65-cent coffee, and the sales tax system.

The most interesting and fully realized "character" in this memoir is Dwayne, the longtime employee the family inherits from the previous owner. From his sixth sense about impending inspections and "stings" to his .37 pound sandwiches, sections that include Dwayne spark while others sputter along.

What I'd like to read is a prequel: a fully realized account of his marriage into a traditional Korean family, and the trials of having to move into his wife's parents' basement on Staten Island.
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