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by Jan Harold Brunvand
Jan Brunvand's second collection of contemporary folklore contains dozens of legends not covered in his first book, "The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings." The sequel ventures beyond "classic" stories like "Alligators in the Sewers" to explore some of the more gossipy tales inspired by pop culture and a few lesser-known traditional ones.
Among those "relatively ignored" by folklorists but favored by Brunvand in this book are:
As always, Professor Brunvand's fascination with these apocryphal tales, their origins and significance makes for delightful commentary on material that's entertaining in itself. Folklore is never a dull subject, if "The Choking Doberman" is any indication. Brunvand dutifully debunks falsehoods but all the while makes it palpably clear that there's much more to learn from examining urban legends than whether or not they deserve to be believed.
"The truth never stands in the way of a good story," he likes to observe. The fact that a quarter-century of debunking has not made a dent in the popularity of some of these legends proves the point: the story's the thing.
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