In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the value of personal narratives in enlightening us about our lives and our world. We all live with legends, family sagas, and anecdotes that shape our selves and give meaning to our recollections.

Featuring an array of colorful personal stories from Frank de Caro's life and years of field research as a folklorist, Stories of Our Lives is part memoir and part exploration of how the stories we tell, listen to, and learn play an integral role in shaping our sense of self.

De Caro's stories within the story include:

  • a family history of pioneers, a near-mythic capture of his golden-haired grandmother by Plains Indians, and a quintessential Italian rags-to-riches grandfather
  • his own experiences growing up in culturally rich 1950s New York City
  • living in India amid the fading glories of a former princely state
  • becoming a folklorist at Indiana University against the backdrop of student protests in the late 1960s
  • years in semi-tropical Louisiana as sugar cane sprouted on vast plantations
  • conducting field research on Day of the Dead altars in Mexico
  • coming home to a battered New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

Stories of Our Lives shows that all our lives are interesting, and that the stories we tell—however particular to our own circumstances or trivial they may seem to others—reveal something about ourselves, our societies, our cultures, and our larger human existence.

"A model memoir—insightful, well-written, and endlessly fascinating for the rich details it yields about places as diverse as Brooklyn and the East Village, India and Indiana University, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and Mexico."
— James Deutsch, George Washington University

"While memoirs and collections of family stories abound, Frank de Caro makes an original contribution to our understanding of narrative in this beautiful memoir. With a wry sense of humor and fine attention to detail, he demonstrates how the impulse to create and tell stories infuses an individual life. This book will engage not only folklorists, but anyone interested in stories."
— Steve Zeitlin, City Lore

"Any one of the stories in this book is compelling enough to draw the reader in to read the rest. Through telling personal stories and those he has collected in a lifetime, Frank de Caro engages in a wide range of narrative inquiry, importantly demonstrating intersections between the most ordinary taken-for-granted stories and historical events."
— Amy Shuman, The Ohio State University