That Iron String

That Iron String

by Jack Kohl
That Iron String

That Iron String

by Jack Kohl


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"With its provocative title, Jack Kohl has composed a highly nuanced novel and thriller. In it, one reads of the conflicts, perils, devotion, strength, and yes, joy of contemplating a career as a concert pianist. Mr. Kohl has certainly grappled with the inner life of an aspiring pianist, in which all of us can relate."

-David Dubal, faculty, the Juilliard School, WQXR host, and author of The Essential Canon of Classical Music and The Art of the Piano

On a cold dark night in early March 1970, two boats are discovered tied to a pier and bobbing gently in the still waters that ebb and flow between the separate coasts of Connecticut and the north shore of Long Island, New York. Aboard one of the seemingly abandoned boats, its engine still running, are found two healthy baby boys-and three corpses. What strange music of life gave birth to this bizarre piece of business? And what is it that finally-and perhaps fatally-leads to the separation between the two young boys as they grow from adolescence into adulthood? These, and many other questions, will provide ample accompaniment to readers of Jack Kohl's mysterious debut novel, That Iron String.

Named in honor of the New England towns from where their families hailed, Portsmouth ("Port" for short) Gourd has not seen his cousin, Boston, for several years. While both have grown into well-trained classical pianists with the high stress of various regional music competitions in common, the wayward Boston has emerged over time as the flashier and more prodigious player of the two. Port has remained in the small town of Pauktaug, traveling by train to Manhattan in order to attain a master's degree in classical piano.

Life with Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Harry is comfortable if not predictable, but something is missing. Then comes the day when, at the Gourd's three-floor suburban home that serves also as a funeral parlor, a disassembled grand piano arrives by delivery truck-along with the news that Boston is finally returning home. Weeks go by, though, and he does not arrive. All that does arrive are a series of mailed letters-all unread by Port, until the night when his recently-divorced high school crush reappears in his life and feelings long thought dead are reawakened. What transpires will both bemuse and astound readers, as the battle between life and music becomes a wrestle between love and death.

The first novel by a professional pianist in his own right, That Iron String resounds masterfully between the known and unknown, the sacred and profane, the comedic and tragic, the present ... and the past.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780692344453
Publisher: The Pauktaug Press
Publication date: 12/01/2014
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)

About the Author

Jack Kohl is a pianist and author living and working in the greater New York City area. Please visit the author's website at

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