Words

Medium Hero

Reconnecting with Korby Lenker

Attend

More:

WHAT: Chuckanut Radio Hour with Korby Lenker
WHEN: 7pm Thurs., Jan. 28
WHERE: Heiner Theater at Whatcom Community College, 237 W. Kellogg Rd.
COST: $5
INFO: http://www.villagebooks.com

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I found it to be auspicious that when I sat down to read Korby Lenker’s Medium Hero last weekend, I had to forcibly detach my furry feline from my shoulder a couple of times before diving into “Cat Lady,” the first offering in the 27-story collection. 

In the true-life tale, the former Bellingham-based musician and author bemoans the fates that have turned him from a brave young man—a guy who wasn’t afraid to grab an electric fence, hitchhike the 2,500 miles between Alaska and Seattle, or walk alone through a Utah desert for a week with only a gallon of water and six oranges—into a self-described “cat lady” with an embarrassing crush on a cross-eyed kitten.

“It wasn’t always this way,” Lenker writes. “From the perspective of true, steel-jawed manhood, I am a pale gadfly where once I was a gladiator.”

At first blush, the story is humorous in nature. But, like many of the recountings found in Medium Hero, deeper undercurrents in its pages point to some of life’s bigger questions concerning the nature of love, fame, the existence of God, and being a sentient human being in the 21st century.

Those who remember Lenker’s time in Bellingham and his stint in the popular band the Barbed Wire Cutters will likely recall that his musical talents are many. He’s an ace performer, but he’s also a songwriter whose tunes do more than make you tap your feet and want to sing along. They also tell stories that make you stop and listen. It’s a talent he appears to have recreated in Medium Hero.

Although not all of the titles in the collection are told from a first-person perspective—a few of the stories feature a guy named Simon, and one is told from the point of view of a young woman—it’s pretty clear Lenker is drawing upon happenings from his own life in them, as well.

The titular story is one that will have readers scratching their heads trying to figure out what’s what. In its pages, the narrator wakes up to “the worst kind of day.” By afternoon, he’s on the sixth-floor patio of a friend’s apartment wondering if he should jump from the ledge.

“To let go, he thought,” Lenker writes. “There should be a round of applause for the sheer bravery of the act.

“But not every act. Taking pills was not heroic, no. Shooting yourself, maybe. Cutting your wrists, definitely. Throwing yourself off a building was somewhere between shooting and pills. Medium heroism, then. He laughed.”

While the subject matter of a possible suicide doesn’t seem like it would contain the capacity for humor, by the end Lenker manages to turn the tone of the tale around. Yes, the character—who may or may not be him—is momentarily despondent about the course of his life. But after an incident that sees him holding his nuts and gasping for breath on the floor of the patio, he can’t help but see the hilarity in the situation.

I’m not sure which stories Lenker will be reading from when he returns to Bellingham Thurs., Jan. 28 to act as both the featured author and the highlighted musician at the next Chuckanut Radio Hour, but after reading Medium Hero I can guarantee you’ll be entertained—whether you’re laughing, crying or somewhere in between.

March Silver Reef
More Words...
Full Deck
Books that suit you

It can be challenging to find your next great read, but the Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) has stacked the deck in your favor. To celebrate our 75th anniversary and our love of sharing stories, we’ve created a full deck of reading recommendations, one for each week of 2019. 

These…

more »
Deep Creek
A love letter to home

Pam Houston was 31 years old when her first book, a collection of short stories titled Cowboys are My Weakness (1992), was published to some acclaim, earning her a check for $21,000—a lot of money for someone who was living in a tent and could fit all her belongings in her Toyota…

more »
Fiction 101
Our readers write

“Flash fiction has to bring a whole story into a moment,” creative writing instructor and author Kathryn Trueblood says.

This statement was solidified for her last week, when we culled approximately 20 selections from the more than 100 wildly creative submissions of 101 words that came…

more »
Events
Today
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition

12:00pm

Skagit Beer Week

11:00am|Skagit Valley

Artist Workshop

6:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Dig Into Spring

6:00pm|Mount Vernon City Library

Bellingham Reads

6:30pm|Bellingham Public Library

Avian Research

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Poetry Trio

7:00pm|Village Books

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Books and Brews

7:00pm|Village Books

Bos2
Tomorrow
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition

12:00pm

Skagit Beer Week

11:00am|Skagit Valley

City Club Meeting

11:30am|Northwood Hall

Nonprofit Brown Bag

11:30am|St. Luke's Health Education Center

Hidden in Plain Sight

4:00pm|Mt. Baker High School

Dahlias Discussion

4:00pm|Blaine Library

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Fellowship of Fire

6:30pm|Everson Library

Art Talk with Wade Marlow

7:00pm|Dakota Gallery

Jared Hall Quartet

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Foghorn Stringband

7:00pm|YWCA Ballroom

Bos2 Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Thursday
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Skagit Beer Week

11:00am|Skagit Valley

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition

10:00am

Smart Business Summit

12:00pm|Pioneer Park Pavilion

English Country Dancing

1:30pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Exploring Equity

2:00pm|Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center

Happy Hour Thursdays

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Walk on the Wild Side Series

5:30pm|Firehouse Arts & Events Center

Monthly Wine Tasting

5:30pm|Old World Deli

Time Capsule Reception

6:00pm|Skagit County Historical Museum

Pub Run

6:00pm|BBay Running

Incognito

6:00pm|Ciao Thyme

Check out WA Discover Pass Backpack Program

6:30pm|Mount Vernon City Library

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

House Concert with Carolyn Cruso

7:30pm|Chuckanut Center

Dyo Festival Finale

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Good, Bad, Ugly

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Bos2 The Hunts Village Books Trove Web