Pork Pie Hat by Peter Straub is a book I never would have read had it not been among the discarded pile at our library. As a lover of jazz, the title and book jacket intrigued me, so I brought it home.
This novel is classified as “horror”. However, I wouldn’t choose that word to describe it. Although it has contains a grown musician’s recollections of a frightening experience he had at the age of eleven, it’s much more than that story alone. It says much about being a musician and jazz. It also speaks to the ways in which a childhood fright can influence the remainder of someone’s life.
What it is, is a story about a student studying for his Masters degree who loves jazz and interviews an African-American saxophone player whose playing he greatly admires. During the course of the late night interview on Halloween night, the musician, Hat, shares a creepy story from his youth which he has never told another soul.
After hearing of the musician’s untimely death, the student eventually organizes and publishes his interview, leaving the Halloween part out. As an older man he reflects on the musician and speculates on whether Hat’s revelation was truth or fiction.
This quick read kept me riveted to my chair not because of its suspenseful nature, but rather the quality of the writing. I think it’s a well-written novel! Highly recommended!