Through the Membrane
By Marty Khan
Using the rich background of the exotic world of jazz as his canvas, Marty Khan’s stories pursue the mystical with a paranormal bent… filled with fascinating characters, sharp dialogue, highly original plot lines and a stylistic flair that is as rhythmic and vibrant as the music that provides the background for his tales.
In I Never Lived Until I Died for You Khan tips his writer’s cap to Raymond Chandler, as private detective Teddy Hunter pursues a murderer into the ladies room of the legendary jazz club Slugs’ in 1969 only to emerge into an entirely new world. Pianist Kweli Porter’s short road trip as an unenthusiastic sideman into the deserts of New Mexico turns into a profoundly life-altering experience, while revealing totally buried realities of his past in Catwalk to Ever. And four musicians in Exponent 4 find themselves in a sobering position of both opportunity and responsibility when they discover that the music they make together can actually alter reality.
Khan’s immersion in the New York jazz scene since the mid-1960s as fan, musician, manager, producer, advocate, educator and historian provides him with a deep understanding of that world and the men and women who live in it. He depicts it without sentimentality or stereotype, but with a deep love, respect and objective awareness of the mysterious subculture it occupies in the world of the American cultural landscape and folklore. That special atmosphere remains intact whether in the ultra-urban environment of New York City or the wondrous world of the Southwestern deserts (where Khan has resided since 1994).
Through the Membrane is not about tortured genius, the pain of commitment or struggles with the challenges of artistry that are often portrayed as part of the jazz life. Instead, Khan draws upon the unique and vivid personalities he has known to define the various characters who confront the unexpected – and sometimes the unfathomable – circumstances that present themselves along their paths in the pursuit of transcendence.
In truth, these are not stories about musicians or music as much as they are a fertile ground for imaginative explorations in speculative fiction, touching upon politics, social justice, philosophy, spirituality, sexuality, commitment and retribution.
Through Khan’s fertile imagination, these stories are provocative, confrontational and contain highly ingenious twists and turns into the unexpected, but always with a healthy dose of humor, no matter how intense the circumstances may become.
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“Drawn from an unstoppable imagination and a lifetime of insider jazz lore, the plots and characters in Through the Membrane unfold with the eeriness of a Twilight Zone episode, the turns of a Chandler crime mystery and a confrontation with evil characteristic of Martin Scorsese’s best films. Reading Marty Khan’s three spirit-rich and ancestor-wise sci-fi novellas is like watching drop-jaw cinema with an unforgettable soundtrack.”
Kirpal Gordon, author, New York at Twilight
“All told with a richness of language and insight too rarely found these days. Marty Khan’s stories take us to places that are right next to us, but often hard to see. His words dance and his images fly. His imagination is unbound and improvises – leaving reality, touching the sky, and returning – often with a feather’s touch.”
Steve Rowland, two-time Peabody Award-winning documentarian
“Sophisticated writing, with a mythical twist!”
Mimi Machado-Luces, Emmy Award-winning producer