The only part of this book I don’t like is the title. What comes to mind when you think of the word “wicked”? Maybe it’s a deliberately antiquated word because the newest story here is maybe 90 years old. I imagine this book being displayed alongside books with titles like Mobile Ghost Stories and Famous Mobile Houses in some spinning wire shelf in a drugstore. That would be a shame because this book deserves more exposure than that. Kirby is a great storyteller. He has chosen excellent topics. There are 10 historical sketches or anecdotes here, and there’s not a dud in the bunch. “The Theft of the Courthouse” was one of my favorites. He chooses his details well and has a great way of turning history into a story. Unlike a lot of historians, he knows how to set limits. Each account is between 10-15 pages long, and that’s plenty. And Kirby knows he has good material. He doesn’t do anything to insert himself into these accounts; he knows that an account of how a courthouse can pretty much stand on its own.
Put it this way. I hope to get to Mobile one day. He’s the kind of guy I’d want to hire as a guide and when the tour was over, I’d treat him to a burger and a beer and try to persuade him to tell me more stories.
In the meantime. I hope he has plans for a sequel.
If you don’t see it in the drugstore or in the Local Interest section of your bookstore, you can get it here-
Charles Ellenbogen is the author of the teaching memoir, THIS ISN’T THE MOVIES: 25 YEARS IN THE CLASSROOM, and teaches high school English in Cleveland, Ohio. He lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio with Kirsten, his wife, Zoe, their daughter, Ezra, their son, Lincoln, their dog, and Chocolate Scales, their snake