THE BABY TRAIN

AND OTHER LUSTY URBAN LEGENDS

Brunvand's fifth collection/analysis of ``urban legends'' (Curses! Broiled Again, 1989, etc.)—and the formula's wearing thin. As before, the industrious professor of English (University of Utah) has tracked down myriad stories that, through mass circulation, have gained the ring of truth—for instance, the title legend, in which an early morning train wakes local college students who, unable to get back to sleep, allow ``young love [to run] its natural course,'' resulting in an unusually high birth rate on campus. Brunvand discusses origins and possible variants of each legend (for example, pointing out the similarity of ``The Baby Train'' legend to the legend that birth rates soared in N.Y.C. nine months after the 1965 power blackout). It's a charming presentation, often witty, and loosely organized into categories such as ``Sex and Scandal Legends,'' ``Animal Legends,'' and so on. But few of these legends have the classicality, punch, or resonance of those covered in earlier volumes (e.g., stories like ``The Hook'' or ``The Microwaved Pet''). The well seems to be running low: One of Brunvand's ``Horrors'' legends here, about a West Virginia ``flying monster'' named ``Mothman,'' was covered extensively in John Keel's classic work of cryptozoology, The Mothman Prophecies (1975); and the author's lead-off kicker, his ``experience unique in my three decades as a folklorist: I witnessed the genesis of a legend firsthand,'' turns out to be a trifle about a waitress mistaking the words ``plan one'' for an order of ``plum wine.'' The text concludes with ``A Type-Index of Urban Legends,'' a classification grid organizing the several hundred legends that Brunvand has reported on to date. And then there's the legend about the author who, as his inspiration faltered, began to write the same book over and over again.... (Photographs and drawings—not seen.)

Pub Date: March 8, 1993

ISBN: 0-393-03438-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1993

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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