Pork Pie Hat

I love horror pieces that get under your skin and fester. The pieces that for no good reason are just creepy, and you can’t even really figure out why they’re so creepy in the first place.

I love it when a piece is able to freak out the audience with atmosphere as much as plot, or even more so. I think that the greatest skill is in scaring without showing.

I bought a book recently called Halloween. Edited by Paula Gurin, each piece centers around the titular holiday in some way. One of the things that impresses me about the book is that while each piece is connected to halloween in some way, most of the works aren’t actually about halloween- the holiday becomes atmosphere without overwhelming the rest of the piece.

But at the same time the pieces wouldn’t be nearly as effective if they were set in say the middle of July either.

I think the first truly creepy, fully effective piece in the book is Straub’s novella Pork Pie Hat. The piece is centered around a jazz musican’s relatively rare interview with a grad student, during which he relates what was one of the shaping moments of his life. It’s a little slow moving at first but it builds up to the end where it suddenly comes crashing down in this wave of creepiness.

What’s especially wonderful about the piece is that there’s no answers. I have my suspicions as to what actually happened to the main character, but there’s so many ways that it could go that I have no idea. And it doesn’t matter. There’s this beautiful, lingering unsettledness that attaches itself to the piece that’s deliciously freaky. I can’t believe that I just said that.

And as a general rule, I don’t even normally like Straub’s writings.

6 months ago- Dark Fields

1 year ago- Level Two- Ridicule

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