A music school misfit escapes to the highway with a ramshackle recital tour called America 88x50-eighty-eight piano keys by fifty states-winging it from the front seat of his Hyundai and bringing free performances of seldom-heard, modern American music to some of the country's most isolated corners. It's an all-American road trip with a modern music twist, but behind the public façade is a musical Johnny Appleseed desperate to find himself and spiraling into a secret life that could lead just as easily from ultimate self-acceptance to ultimate self-destruction.
In this pedal-to-the-metal literary debut, complete with a free online companion offering nearly 200 multimedia features, Adam Tendler takes readers for an unforgettable ride into the classical music odyssey that beat the odds, shaped an artist, and shook this nation one piano at a time.
Adam Tendler thrives on challenge. A virtuoso pianist attracted to the most demanding scores, he performs them from memory. A freelance artist whose fearlessness and nerve has seen him through highwire performances (without a net) at Carnegie Hall, he has shown up in rinky-dink churches from Alabama to Alaska to play modernist American music for 50 small handfuls of ruffians and little old ladies who must have thought they were hearing something like the music of the end of the world as he made his way, usually on a catastrophic, ill-tuned piano, through a program that would challenge even big-city sophisticates and Europeans. Meanwhile he burst out of the closet and transformed himself from music student to world-class artist-and wrote a harrowing, moving, glowing book about it. "88x50" is one of the finest memoirs by any performing artist, and a powerful testament to the great American project of self-invention and mastery. Adam Tendler is an astonishing pianist and a brilliant writer, altogether in a class of his own.--Rick Whitaker, author of An Honest Ghost and Assuming the Position: A Memoir of Hustling