Inside this book are stories about insects, piano teachers, talking birds, dead birds, ex-convicts, suicide attempts, tarot cards, and bible verses. Some of the stories happened to Korby and some of them he just made up. It doesn't really matter which are which.
Up to this point in his life, he has been a professional singer-songwriter, traveling around by himself, playing songs for small audiences, selling CDs out of a suitcase. Occasionally there have been moments where the light shined particularly bright, but mostly it's just been him and a guitar, making music in living rooms and clubs and the occasional concert hall.
He has met a lot of people, most of whom leaned like him toward the fringe side of the social spectrum. He's written some of them into stories hunched over a laptop in the backseat of a touring van, or in the lobby of a Best Western, or on the cracked vinyl couch of a rock club's green room, poking a keyboard with a pair of sweaty pointer fingers.
And then when he was seven he fell in love with the Ramona Quimby books, and then it was the Great Brain books, and then the Roald Dahl. Most of his best friends have been characters from stories he's read. He's always been drawn to fiction because it tells you the truth you need to know. And the truth he needs to know is that, despite considerable advances in science and industry, the world is still a big fat piece of magic.
PRAISE FOR MEDIUM HERO & KORBY LENKER
"By chance, I saw Korby play music one night and knew I had to meet him. The stories in Medium Hero are just like his songs―clever and well-crafted, with a tendency to linger in your mind long after you’ve finished reading. Very entertaining!”
"Medium Hero and Other Stories is a marvelous debut collection by Nashville singer-songwriter Korby Lenker: deep thoughts, light touch, the holy mysteries of life, and just a guy trying to figure a few things out."
―Bacon on the Bookshelf
"Lenker’s debut story collection presents vignettes of relationships between friends, family, and significant others. These stories straddle a border between an Everyman’s search for meaning and a highly specialized look at modern Americana. They sometimes feature a young, male protagonist named Simon, whose emotional distance and general dissolution funnel into his sharp, critical view of the world around him. It’s never made explicit whether it’s the same Simon across the different narratives, or extensions of the same ethos, but this lack of distinction works well in stories that slip easily between humor and darkness. In “Pro Wrestling,” for example, Simon and his girlfriend get into an argument that threatens the emotional strength of their relationship before attending a violent (semipro) wrestling match. Lenker’s other recurring protagonist shares his own first name―Korby―and some of Simon’s tendencies toward sharp analysis. The stories, from time to time, touch on the function of religion in their characters’ lives. The author highlights Christianity, a strong belief in God, and the power of prayer in “Everyone Has a Miranda Moment,” in which Korby receives a frantic call from his brother, Keegan, relating to his infant nephew’s dire health. Other stories more tangentially reference spiritual beliefs. The title story is the most harrowing, featuring an unnamed, third-person protagonist whose own perceived lack of remarkability leads him to consider ending his life on a friend’s balcony. Following “Medium Hero” is a single-page, flash-fiction piece, “Twitter Translator,” which, in spite of its cleverness, is disparate from the rest of the collection. “Two Red Rings” revisits Korby during a police traffic stop after he’s been speeding on the highway with a marijuana joint in hand, but what starts as a moment of panic winds up as an encouraging interaction between Korby and the officer as they connect over their mutual love for a particular musical instrument. A quick, pleasurable set of short stories that track the emotional and intellectual struggles of several young men."
"Korby Lenker's keen control of narrative voice is spot-on in each of these stories -- distinctive, disarming, entertaining, and completely convincing. The stylish, often funny, sometimes tongue-in-cheek tone of the book made it feel as if I were hearing the stories being spoken aloud to me late at night. I was thoroughly captivated by Medium Hero."
"Medium Hero, a debut collection by musician Korby Lenker, confronts everyday perils with humor and honesty. In an affable voice and a self-deprecating tone, Lenker surveys the world around him and questions what it means to exist in today’s society. Together the stories―some true, some made-up―are a playful yet heartfelt invitation to join Lenker on a journey through the memories and dreams that have made a lasting mark on his soul."
"Medium Hero [is] a collection of short stories that are at once intimately personal and universally applicable."
- Cleveland Plain Dealer
Korby Lenker is a sneaky-good songwriter. And singer. And author. An abbreviated list of Lenker's achievements so far includes: a significant amount of airplay on the legendary Seattle indie rock station KEXP; a BBC 2 interview with Bob Harris, which is only about the highest honor a rootsy singer-songwriter touring the UK can get; opening slots for acts ranging from Willie Nelson to Ray LaMontagne, Nickel Creek, Keith Urban, Susan Tedeschi, and Tristan Prettyman; and wins in the Merlefest folk songwriting contest as well as the Kerrville Folk Festival's elite New Folk songwriting competition. Lenker was raised in Twin Falls Idaho. He is the son of a mortician and attended college in Bellingham, Washington, and there founded the Barbed Wire Cutters, called by SPIN Magazine "The Young Riders of the Bluegrass Revolt." Medium Hero is his first book.