Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'writing'

Hello Again

September 30th, 2013 · 7 Comments

Contrary to what you may have concluded after several months of silence, I have not, in fact, abandoned this long-cherished experiment in storytelling. I had to shift Microkhan to the back burner during a long summer spent spreading the gospel of The Skies Belong to Us, an endeavor that took me to the far corners […]

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The Skies

June 18th, 2013 · 21 Comments

It’s a bit tough for me to believe that The Skies Belong to Us is finally out today. As dedicated followers of this project know, I’ve been working on the book for nearly four years, and there were many moments when its completion seemed an impossibility. The Grand Empress and the progeny can attest to […]

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The Specialist, Cont’d

March 21st, 2013 · 2 Comments

Non-fiction storytelling is ridiculously time-consuming. My latest Wired story, which began life as a Microkhan post in January 2012, has been in the works for nearly a year. Granted, much of that time was wasted on tasks that didn’t pan out—I’m still waiting for a certain FOIA request to come through, for example, not to […]

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Firefighters, Firebugs

August 2nd, 2012 · No Comments

If I so desired, I could probably make this blog all about firefighters-turned-arsonists and still have enough material to post at least once a week. The latest example comes from Opp, Alabama, where a firefighter allegedly set a mobile home ablaze for no discernible reason. The problem has been serious enough in years past for […]

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Poetry Lives!

May 29th, 2012 · No Comments

I spent part of the long holiday weekend catching up with Evan Osnos’s account of Macau’s casino scene, a story gorgeously stuffed with details of nouveau riche excess. The mind reels at the thought that Macau’s high rollers require stools upon which to place their handbags, or that they rock $12,000 mobile phones. But the […]

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You Have My Sympathies

April 27th, 2012 · 1 Comment

I have exactly one week to go before my book deadline, so expect the next few posts to spin off my last-minute writing struggles. Over the past several months, I’ve occasionally shouted out great examples of single descriptive details that elevated non-fiction tales into the realm of high art. There was Barbara Demick’s retelling of […]

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Speed Above All

April 20th, 2012 · No Comments

I recently spent the better part of a day trying to verify a single, rather insignificant fact for my next book—namely, whether an interviewee’s claim to have received a certain model of Omega watch in early 1978 jibed with Omega’s production schedule. (It did.) Having expended way too much mental bandwidth to accomplish that one […]

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Flying Too Close to the Sun

April 17th, 2012 · No Comments

If all had gone according to plan, I would’ve handed in the complete first draft of my next book today. But, much to my discredit, I’m stil a whole chapter away from completion, plus a few more days’ worth of revisions. I can take some small comfort, at least, in knowing that I’m probably not […]

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A Detail Worth a Thousand Words

March 7th, 2012 · 3 Comments

I’ve written before about how a single observation can elevate a work of non-fiction into the realm of true art. That is certainly the case with this New York Times dispatch from Whiteclay, Nebraska, a town infamous for providing alcohol to the neighboring Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It’s a solid piece of reporting, for sure, […]

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Exit the Tripods

February 8th, 2012 · No Comments

Saddened to hear of the passing of John Christopher, creator of one of my formative sci-fi experiences: the harrowing Tripods Trilogy. As I discussed nearly two years ago, Christopher’s tale of alien overlords was far more than crackling adventure yarn; it also centered on a powerful metaphor for parenthood that I admire to this day. […]

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Word Association

February 6th, 2012 · 1 Comment

Just slammed today, with both reporting for my Wired column and preparations for tomorrow’s performance in Soho. Leaving you with some classic Europop and some salient thoughts on creativity from the great Sean Price: HipHopCanada: What starts your creative process? Sean Price: The beat. The beat’ll tell me what to do. And sometimes I have […]

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The Scribe Mind

January 30th, 2012 · 3 Comments

I recently finished up Bill Buford’s Among the Thugs, which is an absolute beast of a book. Aside from that great apocalyptic party scene in Bury St. Edmunds, there’s a terrific set piece in which Buford gets pummeled by Italian riot cops. I love the way he recounts his thought process while being savaged with […]

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The Worst Good Time

January 17th, 2012 · 4 Comments

I’m a few pages from the end of Bill Buford’s Among the Thugs, a study of Thatcher-era football hooliganism that doubles as a meditation on crowd dynamics. It’s perhaps best known for its opening set-piece, in which the author tags along with a bunch of Manchester United supporters on a depraved trip to Turin. But […]

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Seizing the Narrative

December 21st, 2011 · 2 Comments

It’s fair to say this has been a momentous week for Willie Gault, the former Chicago Bears wideout who was also a track star of great renown. Things started off great when police in Los Angeles found his stolen Super Bowl ring, but then took a turn for the worse—the much, much worse—after news emerged […]

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“Today’s Most Devastating Polemicist”

December 16th, 2011 · No Comments

I was reluctant to read my first Christopher Hitchens work, a thin volume that bore the decidedly loaded title The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice. I figured the flap copy told me all I needed to know about the author’s point of view, and that he’d written the polemic more as an […]

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Alien in Alabama

November 22nd, 2011 · No Comments

The deeper I get into my latest book project—just crossed the 30,000-word mark—the more I keep digging into memories of my formative reading experiences. Doing so goes a long way toward helping me understand why I’m attracted to certain stories, and that self-awareness helps me separate the narrative wheat from the narrative chaff. Loyal followers […]

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Tommy Can You Hear Me?

September 15th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Knocking back a few pints with fellow scribe Doug Merlino last night, the conversation inevitably turned to sports—or, more specifically, the late 1980s heyday of Sports Illustrated, the magazine that taught us both to love the art of storytelling. We both remembered that this vintage era of SI featured a ginormous number of “as told […]

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A Pro’s Pro

September 6th, 2011 · 4 Comments

At the risk of alarming folks who have a vested interest in my creative progress, I must confess that the book-writing process is proceeding at a snail’s pace. In a wildly optimistic moment last month, I vowed to have two entire chapters done by Labor Day; now my best-case scenario is that I’ll have a […]

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More Than Words Can Say

August 5th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Back in 2009, I meditated upon the question of whether or not wartime propaganda leaflets are actually effective at weakening an enemy’s resolve or ability to flight. The main takeaway was that design really mattered, as only certain kinds of leaflets—those with clear messages that eschewed graphic imagery—made a real impact on recipients. Ever since […]

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Leisure Defines the Man

August 1st, 2011 · 11 Comments

Coming off a hugely frustrating weekend of writing, in which I ended up deleting hundreds upon hundreds of words that seemed cold and lifeless upon the screen. After much thought and a few of these, I figured out a big part of my problem: In an effort to make the story more vivid, I was […]

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Truthiness

July 22nd, 2011 · 2 Comments

As I try and focus on the painful act of book-writing, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the unwritten rules of non-fiction‐or, rather, the fact that those rules seem to vary by creator. While I spend time agonizing over which version of a remembered quote to use, other writers seem to have no […]

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The Book is the Boss

July 14th, 2011 · 5 Comments

Moving from Atlah to Queens has been an arduous process, but the act of sifting through one’s detritus has not been without its small pleasures. I’ve had occasion to stumble upon various old magazines that I kept around for one reason or another, and flipping through their pages has often reminded me of why I […]

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The Single Step

July 11th, 2011 · 5 Comments

So pretty momentous day here ’round Microkhan’s new-ish Queens headquarters: after many weeks of inventing excuses to procrastinate, I’m finally starting to write my next book. It’s due in April, so I reckon I have just enough time to craft the tale and fill in the remaining research gaps. But right now the endeavor seems […]

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That Revelatory Moment

June 8th, 2011 · 4 Comments

In studying various classic works of non-fiction, I’ve noticed that many do an excellent job of setting up a character’s epiphany. This is no mean feat, as it is quite easy to make those sudden revelations come off as artificial. The key is to make us understand the logical trail that led someone to realize […]

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The Folly of Youth

April 25th, 2011 · 5 Comments

I’m just now getting cranking on a sports-related project—my first crack at writing about the athletic games that adults play since I covered the Nagano Olympics as a mere cub. To get into the right mindset for the challenge, I’ve been looking up the old Sports Illustrated stories that influenced me so deeply as young’un. […]

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Introducing the Ponchos

April 15th, 2011 · 12 Comments

I’m assuming this news will break few hearts, but Bad Movie Friday is gonna go on hiatus for a while. I just got a little sick of sifting through the mountains of cinematic dreck each week; it’s pretty depressing to realize that Invasion U.S.A. is actually the cream of the B-grade action crop. And so […]

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Flying with the Seagull

January 21st, 2011 · 2 Comments

I wasn’t going to start plugging my next major project ’til next week, as it won’t be going live ’til Wednesday the 26th. But this piece sort of blew our cover, plus a pending guest shot over at Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ blog threatens to complicate matters, so I’ve decided to end the week with a not-so-hard […]

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No Sense of Time

January 6th, 2011 · 1 Comment

I’ve recently taken a lot of comfort from this Paris Review Q&A with John McPhee, in which the non-fiction master confesses that his writing remains a day-to-day struggle. (Celebrities—just like us!) But while most of the interview is dedicated to the creative process and the occasional madness it engenders, there is also this dead-on snippet […]

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The Forgetting

October 27th, 2010 · 5 Comments

I’ve been dealing with some mega writer’s block these past few days, which has got me wondering whether it’s possible for someone to spontaneously lose their most well-developed skills. That’s obviously true in the athletic realm, where the dreaded Steve Blass Disease has ended more than a few baseball careers. The problem with such vexed […]

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Interview Zero

August 18th, 2010 · 4 Comments

It’s not very often that I can boast of a warm personal connection to a recently deceased celebrity, so please let me take a moment to vouch for the key role that Sir Frank Kermode played in my development as a writer. No, I never had the privilege of studying under the lit-crit master. And […]

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