The Comedian Who Went to the Moon
- onNovember 10, 2014
- Vol.7 Spring 2010
- byKim Yeonsu
- World's End Girlfriend
“The Comedian Who Went to the Moon” is a novella about a woman’s search for her father, a comedian who vanished at the height of his popularity. It won the 2007 Hwang Sun-won Literary Award, and was included in Kim’s short story collection, World’s End Girlfriend, which was published in September of 2009. Below is an excerpt from the beginning of the book.
It was December 24, 2000, eighteen years after a man made his journey into the desert. I was invited to a party by an older alumnus friend in celebration of his recent appointment as full-time professor. There, I saw a woman with a perm, which brought to mind those Cabbage Patch dolls in America that had been such a sensation when I was little. Naturally, I ended up mentioning the Cabbage Patch dolls, which reminded me of ugly American girls, and our conversation led to various events of the early 1980s (when the dolls had been popular), and I ended up recalling a story about a boxer who’d fought desperately for the title of Lightweight World Champion in that city of delights in Nevada, only to end up brain-dead. It was Mike Tyson who said, in something like hip-hop rhyme, “Other than boxing, everything is so boring,” I drunkenly imitated him, in something like hip-hop rhyme. “Other than boooxing, everything is so boooring.” I was a bit dubious of my own behavior, since it wasn’t like me at all to joke around like that in front of strangers. Soon after, the woman with the cabbage head said, “Do you think you could turn that into a novel?” Only then did I realize that she was the reason for my unusual behavior.
“What do you mean?”
“That boxer. The guy who died in Las Vegas.
Could you turn his suffering into a novel?”
“Novels don’t deal with expressing suffering directly. Essays do that. Writing a novel is an act of taking the suffering that the author knows and turning it into story. If I can understand the suffering of the boxer who senses his impending death, then I can write it into a novel.”