by Larry D. Thacker
West Virginia University Press, 2021
Paper: 978-1-949199-59-8 | eISBN: 978-1-949199-60-4
Library of Congress Classification PS3620.H328W67 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 813.6

Humorous and wry stories of misfits and ordinary people in an Appalachian community struggling creatively to make sense of an often nonsensical world.

“It seems like everybody but people from here are sure about what we’re about, and they make money being wrong about it.” The residents of Labor County, a fictional small community in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky, may be short on cash, but they are rich in creativity and tirelessly inventive as they concoct new schemes to make ends meet, settle old scores, and work off their debts to society and, in a way, to themselves.

A zealous history professor is caught stealing from the local museum in protest of petty theft; an arsonist strikes it lucky—twice; a skilled leatherworker saddles a turkey and finds a rider; an angel aspires to be a punk rock Roller Derby princess; a grieving artist carves a miracle into a roadside rock face; and affable Uncle Archie produces a seemingly unending supply of new and bizarre items to display in his Odditorium.

More than a collection of tales, Working It Off in Labor County assembles memorable characters who recur across these seventeen linked stories, sharing in one another’s struggles and stumbling upon humor and mystery, the grotesque and the divine, each in many forms.