AFTER THE COCK CROWS by Charlie Campbell

AFTER THE COCK CROWS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This collection of three short stories ranges from hillbilly humor to playful horror à la Tales from the Crypt or Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

First-time author Campbell opens with “Michelle’s Ghost,” an amusing little tale about a big spider problem. More an extended anecdote than a short story, it refuses to take itself seriously—an endearing quality that pervades the tales. The far more substantial Duncan’s Passion is a novella with solid, empathetic characters and replete with chapters and even an epilogue. There are two characters named Duncan: One is the son of the main protagonists, Tom and Tammy; the other is Tammy’s distant ancestor, one of a number of ghosts haunting the farmhouse the family has inherited. This brief narrative involves pictures falling of their own volition, pirate treasure, the ground opening up, an evil lawyer, mojo, and feuding, cutlass-wielding ghosts. It’s all told with carefree good humor and filled with snarky wisecracks—“Something tells me I ain’t in Kansas no more”—and Halloween imagery: “O’Connor was lying under a large metal shelf with only his head sticking out. His tongue was swollen and his eyes were popped out and resting on his cheeks.” The final story, “Fiddling Blue Billy and His Bigfoot Wife,” has nothing to do with ghosts, but it’s a rollicking bit of good ol’ hillbilly funnin’ reminiscent of Vance Randolph’s Pissing in the Snow and Other Ozark Folktales (1976). This first-person tale tells of a 6-year-old’s visit to his gigantic relatives Billy and Em. It’s filled with Appalachian flavor: “She’s just dumber’n a hoe handle.” Billy is blue from methemoglobinemia, a disorder that actually exists, while Em is from a different race of humans, hidden in the woods and covered with hair, that probably doesn’t exist. The nonsense mounts until Em takes an unnatural shine to the 6-year-old narrator, then all hell breaks loose.

Short, enjoyable and absurd—a pleasant Halloween treat.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1500422608
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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