Too Good to Be True: The Colossal Book of Urban Legends

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9780393320886: Too Good to Be True: The Colossal Book of Urban Legends

"If you enjoy these too-good-to-be-true tales, Brunvand's new book will give you hours of pleasure."―Chicago Tribune

A fabulously entertaining book from the ultimate authority on those almost believable tales that always happen to a "friend of a friend." Alligators in the sewers? A pet in the microwave? A tragic misunderstanding of the function of cruise control? No, it didn't really happen to your friend's sister's neighbor: it's an urban legend. And no matter how savvy you think you are, you are sure to find in this collection of over 200 tales at least one story you would have sworn was true. Jan Harold Brunvand has been collecting and studying this modern folklore for over twenty years. In Too Good to Be True he captures the best stories in their best retellings, along with their latest variations and examples of how the stories have changed as they move from person to person and place to place. To help you find your favorite, Brunvand has arranged the tales thematically. "Bringing Up Baby" is full of episodes of child-rearing gone wrong, including the grisly tale of the drugged out baby-sitter who mistakes the kid for a turkey. "Funny Business" showcases stories of infamous lapses in customer service, such as the story of the shockingly expensive chocolate chip cookie recipe. And "The Criminal Mind" features both brilliant --if they were real --scams, as well as the purported antics of the less mentally gifted. Whether you want to become an expert debunker or just have plenty of laughs, this book will surprise and entertain you. Illustrated throughout.

"Informative and entertaining.... Brunvand has collected more than 200 of the most-repeated and best-known examples of modern folk-myth."―Tampa Tribune "[N]ot only an entertaining anthology, but an excellent introduction to the study of folklore itself."―Publishers Weekly "A fun read... . All the classics are here from the killer upstairs to the Kentucky Fried Rat."―New City "Resonant stories that express our hidden anxieties ... make us laugh, [or] arouse our fascinated horror."―San Francisco Chronicle Book Review "Informative and entertaining... . Brunvand has collected more than 200 of the most-repeated and best-known examples of modern folk-myth."―Tampa Tribune "[N]ot only an entertaining anthology, but an excellent introduction to the study of folklore itself."―Publishers Weekly 70 b/w illustrations

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Review:

Have you heard the one about the new computer owner who mistook the CD-ROM player for a cup holder? Or the woman who thought her brains were oozing out of a gunshot wound, when the "truth" was that when her Pillsbury Poppin' Fresh can exploded, striking her on the head with the lid, the goo she felt was biscuit dough? Jan Harold Brunvand, professor emeritus at the University of Utah and author of numerous urban-legend collections, including The Vanishing Hitchhiker, The Choking Doberman, Curses! Broiled Again, and American Folklore: An Encyclopedia, has been studying urban legends for some 20 years, and his new book, Too Good to Be True, relates more than 200 of these indestructible tales.

There are relatively recent stories based on modern technology, such as the classic microwaved pet, and yarns that have been making the urban-legend circuit for decades, such as the solid-cement-Cadillac story, which can be traced back to the 1940s, at least, involving a cement-truck driver who spies a new Cadillac convertible in his driveway and his wife talking to some strange man. He dumps his load of concrete on the Cadillac, but later discovers the stranger was a car dealer and the car was to be a gift from his wife, one she'd spent years saving her pennies for.

The stories are grouped by subject, including "Dog Tales" and "Just Desserts," "Sexcapades" and "Losing Face." There are baby stories and work stories, criminal tales and college anecdotes, plus stories of mistaken identity, human nature, and technology. Brunvand achieves more, however, than a mere compendium of highly entertaining stories. He discusses the nature of urban legends--those almost believable, addictively retellable tales that always happened to a friend of a friend (FOAF, in folklorist parlance)--and for each individual story, Brunvand includes as much of its history as he has been able to trace, including newspaper accounts, alternative versions, and the story's natural cycle, that is, how many years, typically, between resurfacings. The result is an exceptionally engaging book and a great resource for debunking that next story, as heard from a friend by that unnamed acquaintance of unassailable honesty, that sounds just a little too perfect to swallow whole. --Stephanie Gold

About the Author:

Jan Harold Brunvand lives in Salt Lake City, where he is professor emeritus at the University of Utah. He is the author of numerous books, including The Vanishing Hitchhiker; The Choking Doberman; The Baby Train; Too Good to Be True; and Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.

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