Crybaby Lane: A Short Story Cycle
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Dr. Jaimy Gordon
Dr. Jon Adams
Dr. Jil Larson
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.
Fischer, Charles Michael, "Crybaby Lane: A Short Story Cycle" (2012). Dissertations. 3399.