Stories of Our Lives: Memory, History, Narrative

By Schneider, William | Western Folklore, Fall 2014 | Go to article overview

Stories of Our Lives: Memory, History, Narrative


Schneider, William, Western Folklore


Stories of Our Lives: Memory, History, Narrative by Frank de Caro. (Logan: Utah State University Press, 2013. Pp. xv + 214, acknowledgements, preface, notes, afterword, about the author. $26.95 paper, $22.00 eBook.)

I'm fond of telling students that I think of my life in terms of the stories that inform me and that they should do the same. In this book, Stories of Our Lives, Frank de Caro has demonstrated how his life has been informed and enriched by the stories he has heard, the stories he re-tells, and the stories that he forms to explain the events that shape his life. Beginning with his ancestors, he relates their stories of coming to the United States, a trip replete with capture by Indians. These accounts are seen to represent the classic American themes of immigrant experience and the wild west. Stories of the financial success of his ancestors are marked by descriptions of their comfortable homes in New York City and summer retreats in the Connecticut countryside. Further stories lead us through de Caro's upbringing in the city, college, a stint working in the welfare office and then graduate school where he studied folklore, the lens that sharpened his focus on the meaning of stories. Memorable trips to India and Mexico fuel more stories. Finally there is a research trip to England to interview and collect stories from retired government servants who worked in India, an analysis of Hurricane Katrina stories and a concluding chapter on context and meaning in stories. The book is extensively referenced and there are many supporting notes. …

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