Thursday, June 2, 2011

Over the Counter #57

A pair of interesting memoirs caught my attention this week as they passed over my library counter and under my scanner.

First up was My Korean Deli - Risking it All For a Convenience Store by Ben Ryder Howe.

From the publisher Doubleday Canada:

This sweet and funny tale of a preppy literary editor buying a Brooklyn deli with his Korean in-laws is about family, class, culture clash, and the quest for authentic experiences in an increasingly unreal city.

It starts with a simple gift, when Ben Ryder Howe's wife, the daughter of Korean immigrants, decides to repay her parents' self-sacrifice by buying them a store. Howe, an editor at the rarefied Paris Review, reluctantly agrees to go along. However, things soon become a lot more complicated. After the business struggles, Howe finds himself living in the basement of his in-laws' Staten Island home, commuting to the Paris Review offices in George Plimpton's Upper East Side townhouse by day, and heading to Brooklyn at night to slice cold cuts and peddle lottery tickets. The book follows the store's tumultuous lifespan, and along the way paints the portrait of an extremely unlikely partnership between characters across society, from the Brooklyn ghetto to Seoul to Puritan New England. Owning the deli becomes a transformative experience for everyone involved as they struggle to salvage the original gift — and the family — while sorting out issues of values, work and identity."

And second up was Poser - My Life in Twenty Three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer.

From the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux:

Ten years ago, Claire Dederer put her back out while breastfeeding her baby daughter. Told to try yoga by everyone from the woman behind the counter at the co-op to the homeless guy on the corner, she signed up for her first class. She fell madly in love.

Over the next decade, she would tackle triangle, wheel, and the dreaded crow, becoming fast friends with some poses and developing long-standing feuds with others. At the same time, she found herself confronting the forces that shaped her generation. Daughters of women who ran away to find themselves and made a few messes along the way, Dederer and her peers grew up determined to be good, good, good—even if this meant feeling hemmed in by the smugness of their organic-buying, attachment-parenting, anxiously conscientious little world. Yoga seemed to fit right into this virtuous program, but to her surprise, Dederer found that the deeper she went into the poses, the more they tested her most basic ideas of what makes a good mother, daughter, friend, wife—and the more they made her want something a little less tidy, a little more improvisational. Less goodness, more joy.

Poser is unlike any other book about yoga you will read—because it is actually a book about life. Witty and heartfelt, sharp and irreverent, Poser is for anyone who has ever tried to stand on their head while keeping both feet on the ground."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But... I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)


Book Dilettante said...

I have My Korean Deli and I think I'd love the second memoir also. Just getting into yoga. Enjoy the books!

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) said...

Oh wow My Korean Deli looks awesome and really funny. Enjoy!

bermudaonion said...

I love memoirs, so I'm going to look into these titles.

jenclair said...

I love yoga and rarely miss a day, either in my personal sadhana or in class. I'll look for this one!

Luanne said...

I'm so glad everyone is finding my OTC selctions helpful!