Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

“Champ of the Ivories”

February 4th, 2011 · 7 Comments


I have done my earnest best to keep self-promotion to a minimum on Microkhan, while also refusing ads in order to preserve the pristine reading experience you’ve (hopefully) come to know and love. But, alas, I’m going to ask you to endure a bit of jersey-popping on this cold winter morn, as I try once more to convince y’all to invest a few moments and dollars in my latest major project: “Piano Demon,” the debut story for new digital-only publisher The Atavist.

I first stumbled across Teddy Weatherford’s name while researching Now the Hell Will Start; I rather randomly spotted his obituary while trolling through a reel of old Chicago Defender microfilm. Ever since, I’ve been more than a bit obsessed with the arc of this great pianist’s life; a onetime child coal miner in Pocahontas, Virginia, he eventually became the most celebrated jazzman in Asia. A fixture of the elegant hotels and clubs where the colonial elite gathered to wallow in decadence while the continent descended into war, Weatherford provided the soundtrack for the last gasp of empire.

“Piano Demon” is exactly the sort of yarn that I’d love to make my professional bread-and-butter: a deeply reported nonfiction epic that blurs the line between truth and art. More important, I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to shape the look and feel of the finished product with such an excellet, creative crew. I feel like “Piano Demon” is part of something embryonic but important—a reinvention of storytelling for the Tablet Era.

If you dig Microkhan or any of my other work, I beseech you to give “Piano Demon” a whirl—not only because I’m so proud of the project, but also because I get a fair cut of every purchase. It’s a cheap way to show your support for your humble narrator, plus you’ll learn more than you thought possible about coal-mining accidents, anti-jazz activism, the Shanghai underworld, and Bombay liquor laws, to name just a few of the topics covered.

If you can swing the technology, the iPad/iPhone version is highly recommended; the extra dollar buys you music, extra images, and a bevy of interactive features. But no worries if you’re currently un-Appled; the Kindle version is a winner, too, and it can be read on a litany of devices (including PCs and Macs) by downloading one of Amazon’s free apps. (Also, if you purchase the Kindle version, you can continue to help “Piano Demon” outrank the Mötley Crüe biography.)

And there endeth the self-promotion. Back to your regularly scheduled programming next week: kidnapping rumors, the pig economy in Papua New Guinea, and the gaudy splendor of Mafia funerals.

(Image of Calcuttans transporting a piano via the Digital South Asia Library)

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • scottstev

    Motley Crue bio is written by Neil Strauss of The Game . So everyone please consider it a public service to keep our host on top. The world where young men try to impress the ladies at the bars with stride-piano virtuosity is a better world, indeed.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @scottstev: Also, I need the money a lot more than Nikki Sixx. Though perhaps less than Vince Neil:

    http://apps.detnews.com/apps/blogs/taxingdetroitblog/index.php?blogid=391

  • Captured Shadow

    Didn’t realize you could get the experience with a regular PC (no tablet or Kindle around my home yet).
    It totally makes sense that a PC could do what a Kindle did, just never thought about it long enough.

    Next you’ll tell me I can use my PC and scanner as a fax machine!

  • scottstev

    @Captured Shadow – not just a desktop, I just saw you can use any ol’ smartphone as well. Clearly Amazon is giving away the razors and makes a mint on the blades.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    I’m actually kinda into reading books on my Droid. Great to have when you find yourself with time to kill.

  • jackal

    I realize this is a bit removed from Teddy Weatherford, but in a similar timeframe and geographic location:
    http://blogs.archives.gov/prologue/?p=3810

    Tolstoy’s grandson visited Tibet in 1942 for the OSS on the first offical diplomatic mission there on behalf of the US — and 40 minutes of color footage of Tibet from the early 40s! Found it utterly fascinating, and right up your alley.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @jackal: Amazing, thank you! Beautiful footage.

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