Crybaby Lane: A Short Story Cycle

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Jaimy Gordon

Second Advisor

Dr. Jon Adams

Third Advisor

Dr. Jil Larson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Peter Blickle


Crybaby Lane is a short story cycle set at a soon-to-be-closed, fictional state psychiatric hospital in 1990s North Carolina. Quirky characters populate this book, like framed murderers, ghosts, orphans, strange yet caring staff members, a serial killer, a work release barber from a federal prison nearby who cuts patient hair, and Betty, the hospital's "blue-haired" intercom announcer. The title story incorporates a well-known North Carolina ghost story about a Catholic orphanage that burned to the ground in 1958 to weigh the supernatural against the hospital's grim, squalid conditions. "Summer Jobs & Hope," the coda, investigates class and literacy. "The Bird Man" and "The Sidewalk Schizophrenic" both feature recurring characters who eventually die at the hands of abusive staff. "A Game of H-O-R-S-E"-a vignette sequence interspersed throughout the book-comically explores the corrupt and wrongful charge of murder on a mentally disabled man housed in the hospital's forensic ward. Both tragic and comic, this collection relentlessly captures the daily rhythms of life in a state psychiatric hospital in the American South.

Access Setting

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