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The Cat in the Dryer: and 222 other Urban Legends    by Thomas J. Craughwell order for
Cat in the Dryer
by Thomas J. Craughwell
Order:  USA  Can
Black Dog & Leventhal, 2002 (2002)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Continuing on from Alligators in the Sewer and The Baby on the Car Roof, Thomas J. Craughwell brings us yet another set of urban legends bundled in categories such as Urban Legends inspired by the events of 9/11; Creepy Tales; Pet-Related Legends; or Criminal Mischief.

In his introduction, the author talks about the pay-back theme in urban legends, which often 'teach a lesson about what happens to people who disregard the taboos of our civilization.' A friend gave my fourteen-year-old son this book on New Year's Eve, and he regaled us with legends for the rest of the day (and night). We didn't altogether mind, as they were entertaining, but I did ask him to cease and desist with the how to extract a tapeworm tale during dinner.

Here are some of his favorites. First was a sequence on coincidences regarding the number eleven and events surrounding September 11, 2001, which end with 'New York City has 11 letters. The Pentagon has 11 letters. Afghanistan has 11 letters.' Next he chortled over the one about Afghans yelling 'Yabba dabba do' (shades of Fred Flintstone, but supposedly 'crates that fall from the sky' in Pashtun) at US Special Forces.

Then there is the story of the 'Pampered Poodle' and the sharks at Sea World - you can guess can't you? I rather liked the one about an exam question on 'The Difference between Ignorance and Apathy', the student's answer being 'I don't know and I don't care.' My son has other favorites but they are too gruesome to repeat here. He did not especially enjoy the title tale 'The Cat in the Dryer', but then he's fond of our cats.

Why are urban legends so popular? Possibly because we often read stories that are (almost) as bizarre in the daily newspaper. In any event, they are highly entertaining, and I recommend this latest collection to you as great fun, but not at dinner time!

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