Kim Sheehan'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
Aug 12, 2011

really liked it

I'd give this 3.5 stars if I could...I liked much of it, but there was a lot I could skip over.

This is a non-fiction story of how the author, his wife, and her Korean family purchased and ran a Korean deli in Brooklyn for several years. At the same time, the author is struggling with a less-than-inspiring job at the Paris Review and his wife is trying to find an appropriate work/life balance...all while living in the Pak family basement. There's really about four different stories in this book, and they might have been stronger as short stories or articles.

While the writing is strong and evocative, it's hard to drum up any sympathy for someone working for George Plimpton at arguably the most literary of literary magazines of our time. And while I could visualize the characters, I couldn't empathize with them.

That said, anyone who has ever worked retail and wondered what it would be like to own a store should read this. It's a fast and interesting read, although not one that will stick with you long after you close the book.
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