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Phantom Hitchhikers and Other Urban Legends: The Strange Stories Behind Tall Tales Paperback – February 5, 2013
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In the beginning, Jack tells us that in one of his stories he gave a character a name, and it was the name of the friend who told him the story. Throughout the book he occasionally gives names and locations and dates, etc., and there is no way to know how much of it he's making up. It should be one way or the other. Either he is a storyteller telling urban myths, or this is a nonfiction book about urban legends. The latter calls for more scholarship and openness.
Jack's writing style includes humor, although it can be heavy-handed. In his section on "Winston Churchill Was a Druid", for example, he starts off with: "When the Roman Army reached the shores of England in AD 43, they encountered a fairly uncultured race of people with few skills, little intellect, and virtually no compassion, such as can be found on the average Friday night out in any suburban town nearly two thousand years later." This odd little intro may be explained by the fact that Albert Jack is the pen name of the British writer, Graham Willmott.
Where Willmott really loses me, though, is in that last chapter, titled "The Appliance of Science". Some of the entries are usual urban legend goofiness, such as a tanning bed that scrambles your insides like a microwave (which Willmott debunks). Some get into conspiracy theories.
When I got to the last chapter's entry for "One Small Step for Man...Read more ›
Phantom Hitchhikers and Other Urban Legends would be a good book to take on a trip to read in the car as your spouse drives, or to work to read during bathroom breaks. The stories are short and light and can be digested quickly, and could even be turned into conversation starters or amended into jokes.
Recommended for anyone who enjoys an amusing yarn.