cover image Black Sheep/Kissing Cousins

Black Sheep/Kissing Cousins

Elizabeth Stone, Author, Elisabeth Scharlatt, Editor Crown Publishers $17.95 (254p) ISBN 978-0-8129-1255-5

Family stories and lore endure, maintains Stone, an associate professor of journalism at Fordham University, not because they are entertaining or necessarily accurate but because they provide esteem, convey messages, offer instruction, blueprints and ideals, and issue warnings and prohibitions. And, they disappear, the author contends, when they no longer serve. She presents interviews with people of diverse races, ages, classes and religions, and advances here that the stories of Eastern European Jews, Southern Europeans and blacks tend to posit a dangerous world where individual initiative can easily be undermined, and that many stories about daughters are suffused with negative sexual stereotyping. Although light is shed on the power of oral tradition, Stone distills and dilutes meaty psychological, folkloric and anthropological theories for popular consumption. She also indulges in pop psychoanalysis in a debut that is accessible, readable and revealing but rarely gripping. First serial to the New York Times Magazine and Glamour. (March)