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Book details
  • Genre:FICTION
  • SubGenre:Literary
  • Language:English
  • Pages:306
  • Paperback ISBN:9781483578002

The Grand Piano Chase

by Kit Stokes

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Gary Bullock faces two crises--finish a grad school theses in weeks or be expelled, and "get a life or get out of mine," as his pregnant girl friend announces. He flees to Mudstone in response to the first crisis and once there is accused of stealing an $85,000 piano. In a summer full of unintended consequences Gary and Dan inspire the grand piano chase, as all seek to gain a finder's fee from the IRS. Expelled from college, Gary begins a new life as a small town journalist, and Dan falls in love with Nadine, a piano prodigy, About to be arrested on his wedding day for concealing assets from the IRS, Dan is rescued by the arrival of Sherrie. In a series of persuasive arguments, direct actions and shrewd horse-trading, she satisfies the IRS and saves Gary's inheritance by marrying him. Having learned that books are not life, Gary settles in to a genuinely satisfying life in Mudstone, the soon-to-be father of twins.
The Grand Piano Chase is a riot of unintended consequences in Mudstone Creek, Colorado, a village where most of the men are eccentric and all of the women are smart. Gary Bullock, 29,has been a professional grad student for three years, dawdling over a simple cowboy novel as a thesis requirement in a New Mexico university. In June of 1986 he receives two ultimatums. The Dean gives him till August to submit his completed work or be expelled. And Sherrie, his live-in girl friend announces he will be a father in December. "You've never held a job longer than six months. I'll not raise two children. Get a job. Get a life or get out of mine." Unable to face more than one crisis at a time, he flees to his uncle Dan's cabin in Colorado, hoping to be put up for a summer of peace and quiet while he writes. Sherrie will neither marry him nor even answer his phone calls. In his first week in Mudstone the first man he meets accuses him of having stolen a grand piano, a Boesendorfer Model 219 Imperial worth over $85,000. And he accidentally offends Seth Macon, the richest man in town, who promptly pulls a few strings and has him expelled. Attempting to "get a life" on his own, he finds his education has left him painfully unequipped to live among ordinary people. To retaliate against Macon he writes and records "The Ballad of Mountain Dan," contrasting the innocence of his uncle with the stealth and greed of "Simon Pure. Given air time, the song goes viral, infuriating both Macon and the IRS--and inciting a media-driven frenzied search in the mountains for the purloined piano--the Grand Piano Hunt. From absurdity to absurdity the month's events entangle Gary and Dan in an ever-deepening morass of IRS seizures and arrest warrants as the piano in tracked down. But in a scant thirty-six hours after Sherrie enters Mudstone, she engineers a tour de force of subterfuge, persuasion and horse-trading that satisfies the IRS, the police, Gary's uncle (who elopes with a keyboard virtuoso), Seth Macon and Gary--who has learned that books are not life and in the process has become a small town journalist and a married man soon to be the father of twins.
About the author

Kit Stokes was a music major in college when the birth of his second daughter demanded he change to a major which promised secure employment. He became an English professor rather than the living the life of a writer or a musician he had always dreamt of. After thirty-five years of teaching he retired to write.  Toiling first on an imitation of a Louis L'Amour western, he then wrote the Grand Piano Chase, which envisioned the life he might have led, had he established one before the birth of his children.  Drafted during a five year retirement on Maui, the novel is dedicated to his wife, who thought he'd never finish it. As a character, Sherrie was modeled on his wife's  behaviors. Kit remains a banjo picker, and as a motorcyclist he still maintains that if there were anything better, you'd think they'd have found it by now.

     His interest in the mechanics and music for the piano stems from his father, who was a church organist and teacher of music.  Doc is based on a professor of history he one knew. "Chopin's Daughter," the tale of a prodigy who taught herself to play the piano, started out earlier as a short story.  He now lives in Porterville, California.