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Spotlight on: Camdigan by C. Dennis Moore

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Camdigan by C. Dennis Moore C. Dennis Moore, Camdigan

When David Tierney takes the wrong exit off the interstate on his way to Seattle, he finds himself in Camdigan, where no matter which road he takes, he ends up at the same Dead End. Trying to get directions from the townsfolk is no picnic either -- they know he does not belong there, and the only way out goes somewhere David is not prepared to go yet. Especially not now that he's met Beth, a twelve-year-old Camdigan resident who looks just like his late wife, Rose ... who died twelve years ago.

Author C. Dennis Moore takes a detour of his own with Camdigan, a novella from Scrybe Press. Surrounded by mildly science-fictional and horrific elements, it is a love story at its core, something Moore has not tackled before.

But Camdigan is also a small-town story like those perfected by Rod Serling on The Twilight Zone -- something David is well aware of, predicting that "everything here's going to be all screwed up" like "one of those Rod Serling places." His thought is confirmed when he turns his car onto Serling Road (one of many humorous touches).

The town is intricate in its description. I feel I could find my way around without much help. I've been in several towns off the highway, often looking for a gas station, that I feared would be just like it (and that I thought I would never escape). I even once began a story of my own with that premise, but nothing with the detail and solidity of craftsmanship that Moore shows here.

Moore has not worked in pathos before, but he shows a real talent for it here. The love David has towards Beth/Rose, and his reluctance to fall in love with a twelve-year-old, are very real, though the reciprocal needs some work, which makes Camdigan not entirely successful. Love stories need room to breathe and Moore's concise prose does not allow that to happen. Their relationship gets lost within the getting-out-of-town subplot and the discovery of all the oddities in the town itself.

A love story needs space and a leisurely telling if it is to succeed, and the rest of the story must step back and give it room for it to really take hold. A well-told romance can sustain anything else, but it must be the prime focus. This is what allows the momentum of an otherwise quickly-paced film like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to survive a forty-five-minute flashback. I know, it's a strange analogy, but some flashbacks of David and Rose's marriage would also be welcome here, if only to expand Rose's character so that we recognize the similarities between Rose and Beth ourselves without having to be told about them. In every other way, Camdigan is a fantastic piece of work. If it were at least twice as long, it would be perfect.

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