THE DAMP FEDORA
By Kate Pilarcik
Down & Out Books
Stream of consciousness writing is the process by which a writer jots down words faster than the output of a Thompson submachine gun. It is not easy to do, as often what ends up on the paper is a mish-mash of thoughts and disjointed ideas that simply don’t fit together at all. On the other hand, if you’re Kate Pilarcik, you end up with a book that is so energized with rapid-fire slang-slugs, it’s almost impossible to keep up with. Honestly, if you aren’t an experienced reader who truly loves the written word, we are going to warn you away from this little gem. Why? Because to fully appreciate its nuances and word-games, one needs to love fiction. Pulp fiction to be exact. And of course we do, which in this case is a very happy happenstance.
Nelle Callahan is a gusty, tough-as-nail female P.I. who agrees to help a mysterious, handsome stranger locate his father’s lost will. Seems like a simple enough, run-of-the-mill plot. Right. So she takes him to her favorite coffee shop down the street where they are assaulted by a mob thug. Then, after Nelle puts the mug’s lights out, with the owner’s help via a swinging fry pan, she finds herself chasing after a famous baseball player who just happened to be in the joint and witnessed the confrontation. Apparently a talented player for the Phillies, this sportsman, it turns out, was at the shop looking for Nelle in the hope she can get him reinstated and back on the playing field.
All of which takes the story into the world of pre-World War II baseball and it is a ride as wacky and joyous as an extra innings pitchers’ duel. Do recall my earlier warning; this is the kind of book that takes detours you never saw coming. Then, before you can sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” we discover this troubled big leaguer is in possession of a priceless J.R. Reach bat made of white ash, of which only three were made.
Oh, and did we mention Nelle is also a secret agent for the O.S.S.?
“The Damp Fedora,” once we managed to cut our way through the first five pages, took off like a bucking bronco fresh out of the rodeo shute forcing us to hold on for dear life. With every wondrous phrase, evocative of times long gone, we experienced a thrill ride like none other found between the pages of such a slim book. Pilarcik is a bloody genius and you heard it here first. Now, Lady, you owe me a cold one.