Brazos Bookstore presents Jung Young Moon: Vaseline Buddha
Jung Young Moon, South Korea’s award-winning, cult favorite, and most enigmatic contemporary author, comes to Houston to present his novel Vaseline Buddha (Deep Vellum, 2016), which scrubs the depths of the human psyche to achieve a higher level of consciousness equal to Zen meditation. This tragicomic odyssey told through free association opens when our sleepless narrator thwarts a would-be thief outside his moonlit window, then delves into his subconscious imagination to explore a variety of geographical and mental locations—real, unreal, surreal—to explore the very nature of reality: from a treacherous flight in the mountains of Nepal to a park bench in Budapest to a bizarre conversation in Amsterdam to an encounter with an inflatable rubber dolphin floating in a small river in provincial France.
Vaseline Buddha is truly meaningful, rewarding literature. What makes this novel so fascinating is its permanent liminality and ambiguity: it is exactly the completely obvious which remains ultimately cryptic; it is exactly the linguistic hyper-precision which leads to confusion; it is exactly the “boring” stuff which becomes thrilling at another level; and it is exactly the humorous, ironic attitude of the author-narrator that proves his deep seriousness.