tall tale

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tall tale,

extravagantly and humorously exaggerated story of the backwoods exploits of an American frontiersman. Originating in the 1820s, the genre remained popular well into the 20th cent. One of the earliest heroes of this type of folklore, Colonel Davy Crockett of Tennessee, boasted:
I'm that same David Crockett, fresh from the backwoods, half-horse, half-alligator, a little touched with the snapping turtle; can wade the Mississippi, leap the Ohio, ride a streak of lightning, slip without a scratch down a honey locust, can whip my weight in wildcats … .
These bold deeds were made famous throughout the West by Crockett's Autobiography (1834) and by his Almanacs (1835–56). Crockett also popularized the deeds of the gigantic Mike Fink, "King of the Mississippi Keelboatmen," who was said to have once slain with a single shot both a deer and a Native American who was pursuing it. From Canada came the tales of the hero of the lumberjacks, Paul Bunyan, whose Blue Ox "Babe" was "forty-two ax handles and a plug of chewing tobacco between the eyes." The cowboys' hero was Pecos Bill, who "taught the bronco how to buck," and Southern blacks told tales of John Henry, the railroader and steamboat roustabout who once won a contest against a steam drill.
References in periodicals archive ?
Now that children are thoroughly familiar with tall tales and how to develop a fictional character, they will create their own original tall tale by "spinning a yarn as tall as me.
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Or was Chabon, as Matthew Brogan insists, telling a tall tale and inventing for himself a more colorful and fictitious life, because that's just what fiction writers do?
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Frontiersman and legendary hero of the American tall tale.
Washington Irving and Mark Twain are two of many American writers who incorporated tall tales in their fiction.
My Pet Rattlesnake" is an illustrated tall tale from the Southwest that takes some getting used to, but ends with a giant chortle.
A delightful retelling in English of a Japanese tall tale, we follow the fortunes and misfortunes of 999 tadpoles and their mother and father who outgrow the pond in which they live.
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A tall tale about real people: Red Liz (Queen Elizabeth I) captures pirate Granny O'Malley's son, and Granny goes to London to rescue him in a sparkling scene of manners and mores.
Another long-shot worth noting at the meeting is the John Wade-trained Tall Tale in the Jayne Thompson Memorial Novices' Chase (4.
Or in the raucous "Slim in Atlanta," in which Brown skillfully uses the techniques of the tall tale, the peripatetic Slim satirizes racial proscription and laughs the reader into understanding the ridiculousness of such practices: "Down in Atlanta, / De whitefolks got laws / For to keep all de niggers / From laughin' outdoors" (Collected Poems 81).