From Library Journal
Verbally transmitted stories that have influenced history, beliefs, morals, and humor, folktales usually derive from a retelling by a "friend-of-a-friend" through which the tale has become accepted as fact. In the past half-century, the study of these brief vignettes--which range in theme from animal horror stories to accidents, business and professional events, and pranks--has achieved academic status. These two anthologies recount legends from the oral American tradition, using classic and contemporary sources. Brunvand, the unchallenged master of narratives that incorporate the absurdities and fears of modern urban life, adds another tome to his impressive collections of urban tales and humor. Along with more esoteric entries, familiar nuggets of oral fiction are included, such as title pieces from "The Mexican Pet" and "The Vanishing Hitchhiker." Equally valuable is Canadian raconteur Genge's anthology. His work is a remarkable collection of myths that make the rounds in offices, college dorms, and wherever people swap stories that spring from our deepest fears and fascinations. Including tales like "Scare Me!" and "Corporate Convulsions," these legends have appeared in the popular press and circulated via photocopies, faxes, and computer links, Well crafted and riveting, these anthologies are essential to Americana collections. Recommended for all libraries.-Richard K. Burns, MSLS, Hatboro, PA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Here's a thorough, enlightening, entertaining look at urban legends: those sounds-too-good-to-be-true stories that always seem to happen to a friend of a friend. Genge, who's also written books about the television series The X-Files
and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
, has put together a collection of the familiar (the "Mexican pet" that is not quite a dog) and the little known (footage of a wedding reveals the father of the groom picking the father of the bride's pocket). She also debunks some myths that aren't quite urban legends, e.g., the common belief that the suicide rate is higher during the Christmas season (in fact, Genge says, it's lower). Best of all, she reveals that some so-called urban legends are in fact true stories. The book could use an index--it's tough to find a specific story if you happen to be looking for it--but it's otherwise a fine addition to the urban-legend literature. David Pitt