Read This Book

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“It’s hard not to fall in love with My Korean Deli. First, it’s the (very) rare memoir that places careful, loving attention squarely on other people rather than the author. Second, it tells a rollicking, made-for-the-movies story in a wonderfully funny deadpan style. By the end, you’ll feel that you know the author and his family quite well — even though you may not be eager to move in with them.” Corby Kummer, New York Times, March 18, 2011
Read on here.

An excerpt concerning sandwiches follows.
Of course, Dwayne himself has ideas about what things should cost. For instance, not long after we bought the store, Dwayne told Gab that every sandwich had to have at least .37 pounds of meat.

“Point-three-seven?” said Gab. “According to who?”

“Everyone!” said Dwayne. “Just ask – a sandwich has to have point-three-seven pounds of meat. Otherwise it’s not a sandwich.”

A third of a pound of meat – Jesus, no wonder Dwayne’s sandwiches are so popular. With a third of a pound of meat – plus all the extra layers of cheese, toppings and vegetables Dwayne likes to throw on, all wrapped up in a freshly baked hero – you can feed a whold family, and at our store no one ever gets charged more than siz dollars (usually more lie five). Moreover, you get the added value of Dwayne’s performance. Dwyne likes to make sandwich-making sound like thunder, the way he karate-chops the paper off the roll, slams the refrigerator doors and tosses the serrated knife in the tme metal sink. His sandwiches look like if you luanched them on the East River, they would fail to pass beneath the Brooklny Bridge. Customers, unaward of the Pavolvian response he’s induced, pace bak and forth, eyes abulge, peeking tippy-toe over the counter They’re in a trance. By the time they get to the register they’ve lost the ability to speak andd can barely mumble “Howmuchizzit?” Sometimes they don’t even get bothe feet out on the sidewalk before they start tearing off the sandwich paper and eating like grizzle bears, trying to stretch their jaws around that enormous bun. If I were from the neighborhood I’d live on Dwayne’s sandwiches, especially now that it’s wintertime and the price of everything is going up. Ben Ryder Howe, My Korean Deli

Here is a snapshot of the actual deli Mr. Howe owned with his family.

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“Shopkeepers make good narrators because they’re passive and steady,” writes Ben Ryder Howe in his memoir, My Korean Deli: Risking It All for a Convenience Store. “Plus, in the end, something awful always happens to them.”

Howe knows from both narrators and shopkeepers: My Korean Deli follows Howe as he works days as an editor at The Paris Review and nights at his family’s Brooklyn deli. And Howe, though a fairly lousy shopkeeper, makes for an excellent narrator: His book is an engaging and funny tour of the down-and-dirty world of New York City small business, whether that business is an Upper East Side literary magazine (The Paris Review later moved downtown) or a Boerum Hill bodega.

Howe and his wife, Gab, bought the deli as a last-ditch effort to earn enough money to move out of Gab’s parents’ house in Staten Island (“New York’s pariah borough”). But the deli also serves as Gab’s way to give something back to her mother, Kay, a steely Korean immigrant devoted to hard work and hard truths. “What’s the matter?” she asks Howe, when he expresses his desire to own an upscale market rather than a downscale junk-food and phone-card emporium. “You not like money?” Dan Kois, NPR, March 9, 2011 Read more here.

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