Tag Archives: short stories

Patrick McManus: What in the…Outdoors?

Most books of good report tend to be novel length, with a stirring message or theme, deep, three-dimensional characters, and a devilishly exciting or clever plot.  This author has none of that.

“But wait,” you say, “how can a book be enjoyable if it has none of the above in it?” Well, at least that’s what I ask myself every time I see someone reading Twilight. (The mere thought gives me shivers.)  In any case, that’s what’s special about this guy.

Although he does write novel length detective stories, Patrick McManus’s forte is his book-length collections of short stories.  With a sense of humor that borders on the ridiculous (and sometimes obliterates it) McManus’s stories focus on outdoor hunting and fishing, and everything that can go wrong with those two.

In nearly every story, McManus features himself in some degenerating, comical way, spoofing the outdoor’s man in each and every way he can think of! But often the most enjoyable stories are the ones of his childhood as a dirt poor boy in Idaho, hanging out with semi-fictional friend Crazy Eddie and an old, curmudgeonly (if you choose to read these books, you’ll hear that word a lot) mountain man named Rancid Crabtree.  The name says it all.

As far as content goes, McManus seems to fully enjoy hinting at baser desires, (one story with Crazy Eddie and Rancid Crabtree has Rancid attempting to mold a nude woman out of clay, which fails because none of them knows what a nude woman looks like) any actual bad content seems to be missing.

Swear words nearly always appear as dashes, (“You don’t have to use dashes, I know that one,” one character might say to another) and inappropriate humor definitely takes a backseat.  Smoking is prevalent to an extent, as McManus’s stinky old pipe is credited with his success on a few occasions.

Overall, I continually find these books on the top of my must-take-on-road-trip list.  His humor isn’t appreciable by all, but those who get it will laugh out loud more than once.  And most ages who will find him funny will be fully able to handle the slight content there is.

A quick note about those detective stories.  I tried reading one, but not only did it seem to me pushing the bounds of inappropriateness, but it also didn’t seem that funny.  Those I cannot recommend.

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