When jazz legend Charles Mingus comes to town, playing his double bass at the Nighthawk Club, one struggling musician sees what no one else can: Mingus playing “in the soul,” transforming into a giraffe. Mingus calls it the underground: the place he goes when the music is everything and he doesn't have to think at all.
Now Mingus sees something special in a younger musician, Kenny. Will Kenny have the same ability? Will he find the way to the underground?
"Mingus Fingers is one of those rare stories that gets everything right. What it feels like to be a black man in 1940s San Francisco, to box, to play jazz, to understand what it takes to be the best at either but know you’ll never be able to pull it off. The narrator’s voice is matter-of-fact but also soars, so that you’re immersed in the sweat of the ring, the smoke of the jazz club, the indescribable joy of when the music really swings. You don’t have to know Mingus’s music to appreciate what the authors have pulled off, but if you do, the story will resonate that much more deeply for you. And really, you could do worse than listening to some Mingus. It’s because of stories like this that it’s so important for us to support our small presses...I loved it so much that a few weeks after reading it I went back and read it again. I think I might have enjoyed it even more the second time."
—Charles de Lint, Fantasy & Science Fiction
"In Mingus Fingers, David Sandner and Jacob Weisman have given us a quietly intricate and intelligent merger of boxing, jazz music, the seductive lure of the artistic impulse, and the ultimate meaning of it all. I read it with pleasure and admiration. Highly recommended."
—Rick Wilber, author of Alien Morning
"A stroll through jazz, boxing, the creative fire, and the prices of all three. Subtle, profound, and moving."
—Kij Johnson, author of The River Bank
"Odd magic and arresting imagery [that] captures the feel of jazz."
"I totally grooved to Mingus Fingers, [an] evocation of a vanished stellar era, San Francisco’s bebop heyday of the early nineteen fifties. The team behind this charming, low-key but powerful tale—David Sandner & Jacob Weisman—blend their voices beautifully into an organic whole that reminds me of the tonality of John Kessel or Karen Joy Fowler. . . . The characterization here is superb, with all the players leaping off the page with subtle grace. The evocation of the period is spot-on, subtle and not overdone. The parallel worlds of boxing and jazz extend fine tendrils of correlation into each other. The doings of the actors are multivalent and authentic. And the unreductionist climax rings true. All in all, a wonderful accomplishment."