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Vanishing Hitchhiker Paperback – Dec 1 2003
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"A uniquely entertaining book, edifying scholarship, diverting social history."
A uniquely entertaining book, edifying scholarship, diverting social history. --Elaine Kendall"
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.
Top Customer Reviews
Brunvand distinguishes the urban legend from tall tails, jokes and its other narrative cousins. The prototypical urban legend is represented as true, spread primarily by word of mouth, unattributed--often happening to a "friend of a friend," and has many variations in detail while preserving the story's core elements. Readers are encouraged to become amateur folklorists who can recognize these narratives, question their veracity, and explore our motives for repeating them to each other.
The bulk of the book presents and analyzes urban legends for readers benefit and entertainment. They are grouped by loose theme into chapters that cover car stories (e.g., "The Philanderer's Porsche"), teen horror tales ("The Hook"), contaminations ("Spiders in the Hairdoo"), death ("Dead Cat in the Package"), nudity ("Nude in the RV"), and business ripoffs ("Red Velvet Cake"). The final chapter reviews several "myths in the making" that were on the rise at the time the book was first released.
For the urban legends themselves, I agree that the snopes web site is a far more current, extensive, and dynamic collection. But reading this book is worthwhile for Brunvand's early thoughts and theories about their origins and our motivations for telling and believing them.Read more ›
The first chapter of the book deals with all the foundational information. What are "Urban Legends"? How should they be interpreted? Brunvand uses "The Boyfriend's Death" legend to help explain the phenomena and how they are studied. By far this is the most important chapter of the book, as this is then the material the reader will use on the majority of the rest of the book.
Chapters 2 through 7 are all about the legends, broken into groupings such as Automobile, Teenage Horrors, Contaminations, the dead, kind of a catchall he titles "Dalliance, Nudity, and Nightmares, and then finally two favorite media legends. Chapter 8 then looks at urban legends in the making, where he looks at legends which never take off into the population as a whole (or haven't yet), or have gone into a period of inactivity, etc.
This is a good introduction into the study of Urban Legends. My negatives are all on the writing style of the book, and not the content. The presentation could have been much more accessible and interesting. While that may not matter as far as the quality of the information is concerned, it would have helped bring more people to a point where they can appreciate the topic and the significance of studying these stories.
Secondly, it attempts to provide an analysis or the reason for such legends appearing. The book has been organized under several broad categories for the purpose of analysis: CLASSIC AUTOMOBILE LEGENDS, TEENAGE HORRORS, DREADFUL CONTAMINATIONS, FEAR OF DEATH, NUDITY, and BUSINESS RIPOFFS.
I enjoyed many of the urban tales. It brought back memories of my childhood when I was hearing or telling the same stories. There were also some stories that were new to me, and I look forward to telling them to my friends! The author also did a good job discussing the origin and history of each of these urban myths.
Overall I enjoyed the book and would recommend to anyone who likes these types of tales.
Most recent customer reviews
Thanks to the work of Jan Brunvand, the term "urban legend" has become part of the English language lexicon. Read morePublished on Jan. 29 2004 by grasshopper4
This author is a rare find in literature of this kind: a genuine, professional folklorist who carefully documents his subject and traces its beginnings. Read morePublished on Nov. 18 2001
I bought this book thinking that it was a collection of short stories about urban legends. I was partly right. Read morePublished on Sept. 16 2001
A fabulous introduction into the propagation of urban legend. We already know the stories - the hook or alligators in New York's sewers. Read morePublished on Jan. 14 1999
This book is excellent. By reading it you get a good scope on what urban legends are and how they fulfil their role in communication in society. Read morePublished on Aug. 7 1998
I bought this book to get a better understanding of WHY urban myths and other word-of-mouth stories are passed along in our society. Read morePublished on June 22 1998 by Bob G. - author, investor, entrepreneur
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