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. Working It Off in Labor County assembles 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.
Like an old school country album by Billy Joe Shaver or Merle Haggard, Larry D. Thacker’s debut collection Working It Off in Labor County tells stories about small town life full of quirky characters, humor that can be folksy and innocent but also dark, and heartfelt tales of day-to-day struggle ... Kentuckian writer Larry D. Thacker straddles these different registers with ease, crafting the precise turns of phrase that depict an introspective moment or harkens to a front porch tall tale ... Working It Off in Labor County is a testament to Thacker’s solid storytelling in a lively mix that brings to mind the humor of George Singleton and the hardscrabble stories of Larry Brown.
Working It Off in Labor County chronicles seventeen tales of wayward thinking and derring-do as varied as Uncle Archie’s 'collection of preserved body parts of antiquity.' Tales that cast a light on how folks seek solace in a chunk of flyover country that’s in the doldrums and awash with 'the many who keep trying to go home, and the too few who know when they’ve arrived' ... Thacker doesn’t sugarcoat the impoverished reality that casts a pall over Labor Countians, imbuing them with an easy-and-sleazy-buck mentality that makes them hope for outcomes as rich as the creativity in their doings ... Tender in its depiction of rural American ennui and mordant in its portrayal of colorful go-getters in a patch of coal country, Working It Off in Labor County is as much a collection of droll stories as it is a tale of two realities — the one that folks live in and the other that they dream about and wish to realize against all odds ...
Thacker (Drifting in Awe) delivers a rollicking portrayal of small-town Kentucky life ... The characters cross paths throughout their misadventures and transformations in stories unified by strong narrative drive and well-crafted prose. Fans of George Singleton will love this.