Books by Patrick F. McManus

CIRCLES IN THE SNOW by Patrick F. McManus
Released: June 3, 2014

"While murder and humor don't always mix (The Tamarack Murders, 2013, etc.), Bo's charmingly wry take on life makes up this time for whatever's missing in the way of mystery."
The sheriff of Blight County, Idaho, makes some life-changing decisions while investigating a murder. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2013

"A wispy second-rate effort from the usually accomplished McManus, who tries this time for quirky but has to settle for preposterous."
Bo Tully, the mostly honest sheriff of Blight County, Idaho, tracks a quartet of bank robbers. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2012

"A nice opportunity for nonmagazine readers to catch up with this engaging humorist, who never met a tall tale he didn't like."
McManus (Kerplunk: Stories, 2007, etc.) repackages some of his magazine writing into a handy collection of stories loosely based on life. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 2, 2010

"Genial, amusing and sweet, with quirky characters and just enough plot twists to engage."
A sheriff and an FBI agent cavort in an Idaho swamp. Read full book review >
KERPLUNK by Patrick F. McManus
Released: Nov. 1, 2007

"Equally charming when discussing hunting, fishing or canine flatulence, McManus is the kind of guy you'd like to crack open a beer and sit by a campfire with."
Prolific outdoorsy writer heads back to nature—and elsewhere. Read full book review >
THE BLIGHT WAY by Patrick F. McManus
Released: March 1, 2006

"This series kickoff from prolific nonfiction author McManus (The Bear in the Attic, 2002, etc.), heavy on the banter, is one of the most entertaining mystery debuts in years. "
A wry Idaho sheriff and his crusty father solve a trio of rural murders. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

There are, we know, regular woodland verities: the cry of a loon across a lake, the bellow of an elk on a starlit mountain, and various other calls of nature. Add to the list of recurrent natural events the humorous essays of McManus (How I Got This Way, 1994, etc.), the resident clown/scholar of Outdoor Life. McManus is ably supported in his less-than-credible buffoonery and outdoor adventures by a long-running stock company of rubes, including Rancid Crabtree, Eddie Muldoon, and Retch Sweeney. His droll essays remain generally entertaining and slick, though there are some signs of immoderate literary heavy-lifting in his 13th collection. Mountain man Crabtree's hillbilly dialect seems to be thickening sufficiently to double for the vaudeville patois of Dogpatch. There are times when McManus's comic descriptions of hunting and fishing pratfalls seem forced. Readers may be surprised by the more wistful tone of some of the recent tales by our hayseed Hemingway. There is, for example, a sweet elegy on angling for the dream fish. The elegiac tone is most evident in McManus's reveries of his idyllic (if disaster-prone) childhood during the Depression. Judging by the recollections included here, one may reasonably surmise that his childhood resembled that of the ``Little Rascals,'' including a scrappy gang of friends and a nubile teacher with dimpled knees. Only rarely does Pat let a fact get in the way of his musings. One occasion: He was once hired as a university English instructor. That, he hastens to reassure us before we begin to take him too seriously, was ``solely on the basis that I smoked a pipe.'' It may be that after another dozen or so books like this, old Pat's cow won't milk any more. Meanwhile, more huntin' and fishin' country humor for old fans and new urban owners of utility vehicles. (Author tour) Read full book review >
NEVER CRY ``ARP!'' by Patrick F. McManus
Released: May 1, 1996

Stories about the author's childhood adventures growing up in a small town, including one in which a delinquent dog tangles with a skunk, and two in which eminently satisfying tricks are played on pompous bullies. Others involve youthful disasters, accident-prone friends, eccentric townsfolk, camp-outs, and crazy schemes. McManus is a sort of Dave Barry for kids. His stories are not merely amusing: They are laugh-out-loud, stomach-clutching, tears-rolling-down-your-cheeks hilarious. Factual or not, the names of people display a backwoods Dickensian humor, from Rancid Crabtree, the old woodsman, to a friend, Retch Sweeney, and his two kid brothers, Erful and Verman, and to Miss Goosehart, a teacher at Delmore Blight Grade School. The humor is often broad, but its expression is matter-of-fact; McManus writes for those with good vocabularies who can read between the lines. Really comic stories that also treat this audience with intelligence are something of a rarity; this collection is as welcome as lemonade in the desert. (Short stories. 10-12) Read full book review >
HOW I GOT THIS WAY by Patrick F. McManus
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

Bucolic essayist McManus (The Good Samaritan Strikes Again, 1992, etc.) pops out of the tall timber to present his ninth gathering of lies and giggles from field and stream. The usual crew of supporting characters—Retch Sweeney, Rancid Crabtree and wife Bun, as well as a phalanx of Sasquatches— provides backup while McManus sings his old sweet song of silliness. He's still got it, if you want it—and you probably do if you ever dreamed of attending an elk hunters' banquet, smelled a hen house, or been bitten by a bug. The author has met all sorts, from George Bush to a kingfisher who left him a farewell note. Indeed, not since Professor Robert Benchley went beak to beak with a pigeon has a writer had such a meaningful relationship with a bird. Between wistful autobiographical reports, our mountain Montaigne fires off a few worthy aphorisms in his debriefings from the field. ``The older something is,'' he muses, ``the more it is valued, people being the only exception.'' Another piece of philosophy (written about a dog, not an erstwhile president): ``Nothing improves character so much as death.'' The thrust of the author's body of work, of course, is spectacular lack of accomplishment in any fresh air activity, and the present collection continues the pattern. This is McManus as his cadre of fans knows him, and perhaps it's too much to ask the nostalgic woodsman to beat a path to new territory. Regular readers will be pleased to meet the hapless Clown of the Wild Frontier once again. Trepid, vincible, domitable, and predictable as the seasons, Pat McManus is still the funniest guy in a flannel shirt. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1992

Pat McManus (Real Ponies Don't Go Oink, 1991, etc.), the Falstaff of Field and Stream, gathers his fall collection of sporting silliness for his eighth trek down his own well-beaten path. Ever mindful of Mother Nature and always careful of the environment, McManus once again recycles several of his most popular characters (wife Bun, Retch Sweeny, Rancid Crabtree, et al.), who strut their usual stuff along with rotten neighbor-kid Felton and rich guy G. Thomas (Goosey) Smith. The lead is played, of course, by the author, who takes the pratfalls like the old trouper he is. In an autobiographical mood (his favorite mood), he admits to doing public relations for the firm that made the world's supply of bim toggles on zitflangs. Blame him for that classic slogan: ``We toggle your bims!'' There are some pleasantries on being poor and on mean Christmas gifts that ring true, but there's also the feeling that the old domesticated woodsman is coasting just a tad from time to time. There's the hunting and fishing fooling, naturally. This time out, in his angling for laughs, McManus has a few strikes, but he doesn't get his limit. As he says, ``that's the way fishing goes. Sometimes nothing much happens.'' Anyway, the company isn't bad, and fans will be quite satisfied to go along. No masterpiece of comic invention, but at least a workmanlike assemblage, with few springs, bolts, or nuts left out. Read full book review >
Released: June 5, 1991

Those intrepid yeomen, Rancid Crabtree, Retch Sweeney, and author McManus, the Mencken of Mud (The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw, 1989, etc.), return in another collection of humorous pieces on hunting, fishing, and wasting time. McManus's patented recreational comedy deals with such mundane matters as fish scalers, used plywood, and scary critters. What follows inevitably is bucolic mayhem, do-it-yourself failure, and rafting on the Tushwallop River. Guest appearances are made by former girlfriend Olga Bonemarrow, Crazy Eddie Muldoon, and Henry P. Grogan and his son, Junior P. Grogan. Of course, there's wife Bun, who likes camping in. ``She likes a little something extra between her and the hard, cold ground, preferably several floors of a luxury hotel.'' McManus carefully builds a house of cards (Jokers), then takes a pratfall or two and knocks the whole construction down in risible catastrophe. Sometimes it's downright frightening. After one episode, Cousin Buck ``had a terrible expression on his face,'' the author tells us. ``I know the expression on my face was almost as bad, because I checked the next morning in the mirror.'' Brave woodsman he may be, but McManus sticks, along with Rancid and Retch, to the old familiar path. Never mind; it's all artfully devised, in an excursion that is as plain as beans and slick as soap, but funnier than either. There's nothing really new or earthshaking in these fey tales of hapless fishermen and numbskull Nimrods. But McManus watchers will want to know that the old rara avis is back in full plumage and chirping away, regular as the seasons. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1989

McManus (Rubber Legs and White Tail-Hairs: Never Sniff a Gift Fish, etc.), that straight-shooting, latter-day Dan'l Boone, has hit the trail again with another collection of lightsome selections. He's still in good form, and fans can be expected to take this seventh outing hook, line, and sinker. Among the more than two dozen pieces of bail is the title one, a funny country cousin to Thurber's "The Night the Bed Fell" and a deft hunters' apologia. There are first-rate, though belated, instructions on how to be a kid. (Annoy the heck out of the family by blowing a tin horn. Grab a kid brother and tie him up in the basement. Stuff like that.) McManus, of course, grew up to become an intrepid hunter, one who, as he tells it, could keep "an entire party of hunters crouched breathless and freezing in the snow while I watched a herd of dead trees cross over a ridge and head in our direction." Naturally, the author, being a literary man, is not always out hunting. Sometimes he is out fishing. Well, maybe it's less fishing than hauling boats around, swapping fishfinders, or removing hooks from his anatomy, but he is out there. And with him are old friends Rancid Crabtree, Retch Sweeney, Valvoleen Grooper, and all the gang. No special hunting, fishing, or camping expertise is required of the reader; this tract isn't posted. A nice chance to enjoy fishing with plastic worms, all the comical aspects of white-water rafting, and the fun of confronting a dumb antelope—all the Great Outdoors, in fact—right at home in the Barca-Lounger. Read full book review >