• Walt Disney’s frozen body?
• Coca-Cola owning Santa Claus?
• Alligators living in New York City sewers?
We all love a good story. But where do the urban legends, conspiracy theories, and old wives’ tales we hear every day really originate? Albert Jack explores the best, strangest, and funniest of the tales so many of us take as gospel, and uncovers some eye-popping true stories that are even more far-fetched than their mythical counterparts. From Robin Hood to JFK’s brain, from hamsters under carpets to mysterious travelers, you’ll never be short of a scary or bizarre anecdote again.
Jack (Red Herrings and White Elephants) unearths dozens of urban legends, conspiracy theories, weird tales, and entrenched celebrity gossip in this fun, fast-paced collection. Pegging the Internet as the main perpetrator in fostering the culture of hearsay that allows tall tales to thrive, he settles once and for all questions of whether Walt Disney’s body really is cryogenically preserved (it isn’t; in fact, his body met the opposite end: cremation) and whether Adolf Hitler had only one testicle. He also hypothesizes that there were actually two Robin Hoods and claims Captain Kidd wasn’t a pirate. But the subtitle is misleading: rarely does Jack dig down to the origins of these stories, content instead to relish their simple retelling, albeit infused with his distinct and delightful brand of dry Brit wit (after relating the antics of a gutsy rule-breaking student, Jack writes, “There are other examples of such audacity, which we obviously recommend you try”). However, some of these stories barely qualify as urban legends and speak more to human stupidity, such as the inane secretary who made photocopies of a blank piece of paper so she could refill her printer. Nevertheless, these light-hearted vignettes consistently entertain. Agent: Robert Smith, Robert Smith Literary Agency (U.K.). (Feb.)