Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Sometimes people just disappeared...."

If you know jazz, you know about him, and the title of this memoir tells you who he is. If you don't know the music, his name doesn't matter. I'll call him Hat.

Hat. A legendary tenor saxophonist who, at the end of his life, was also a drunk, a malnourished and shambling wreck of an old man whose alcoholism masked a dark secret. There's a mystery here: what could compel such an immensely talented man to commit slow suicide? The unnamed narrator of Peter Straub's Pork Pie Hat recalls how he first met Hat in Greenwich Village one October years ago. During the course of an interview he conducted with Hat on Halloween night just two months before the musician's death, he was given a disturbing glimpse into the darkness that slowly devoured the man from the inside out. But the story Hat told him was so incredible that even now, years after the fact, he has a hard time accepting it: Certainly I could not believe all he had said. He had been putting me on, silently laughing at my credulity, for he could not possibly believe that what he was telling me was literal truth. I was a white boy with a tape recorder, it was Halloween, and Hat was having fun with me. He was jiving me. 

Or was he?

Pork Pie Hat is the tale of a mystery born one bloody Halloween night in Mississippi when Hat was just a boy. And, if one believes his story, it is also the tale of the long-reaching effects of human evil. So what really happened? Read Pork Pie Hat and draw your own conclusion.

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