A compelling and often funny account of growing up in one of America’s Korean enclaves.

SEOUL FOOD

SHORT STORIES OF A KOREAN AMERICAN LIVING IN LOS ANGELES

A writer shares anecdotes from her youth in Los Angeles County’s Korean American community in this debut memoir.

The child of South Korean immigrants, Koo, along with her siblings, was forced to abide by certain traditional customs when she was growing up. This included respecting elders, like her grandmother, even when their behavior was somewhat bizarre: “Without our permission, my dad’s mom rampaged through our house with a pair of silver shears, grabbing and cutting pieces of our clothing, big blankets, and any available patches of fabric….She took those pieces of old and new fabric to make oddly-patched small pillow covers.” Sometimes this traditional Korean worldview was shocked by the reality of the family’s American surroundings: Koo’s father’s first gas station was on Crenshaw Boulevard in South Central LA, and a few months after he sold it, the building was set on fire during the city’s riots in 1992. But there was no shortage of other Koreans in LA County, and Koo’s childhood was an often hilarious clash between her American-born peers and her parents’ immigrant generation. At the center of it all, there was always a table laden with traditional food: jeon, bibimbap, banchan, bulgogi, and even the Korean adaptation of the American hamburger (or hambegeo, as the author’s mother called it). Koo’s prose is conversational and amusing, managing to make both Korean and American cultures appear simultaneously alien and familiar: “Ken had long bangs that dangled to the sides of his chin. He was a young eleventh grade ‘wangsta,’ a wannabe gangsta, who wore baggy clothes….He often went to noraebangs to drink, smoke, and sing the latest Korean songs with his fellow wangsta friends, and sometimes he got into trouble.” The book is a thoroughly enjoyable coming-of-age tale of a somewhat precocious girl finding her way in a particularly loud and chaotic environment where the old and the new rested side by side and not always comfortably. Additionally, the work captures a specific time and place in the history of LA and the so-called “Third Wave” of immigration to the United States.

A compelling and often funny account of growing up in one of America’s Korean enclaves.

Pub Date: June 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9907750-1-0

Page Count: 202

Publisher: SPICES Publications

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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