THEY SHOOT CANOES, DON'T THEY? by Patrick F. McManus

THEY SHOOT CANOES, DON'T THEY?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

You don't have to fish or shoot to enjoy Field & Stream's Patrick F. McManus--and these 25 pieces, ranging from hilarious to agreeable to ho-hum, are a worthy follow-up to his first collection, A Fine and Pleasant Misery. McManus is at his subversive, self-deprecating best when remembering highlights of his outdoors-oriented Idaho adolescence: his mentor Rancid Crabtree, an old woodsman ""who bathed only on leap years""; his attempts to build a canoe out of old lumber (""it weighed just slightly less than a Buick""); his disgusting, X-rated, and noisy dog Strange (""I would have had more luck hunting with a rock band""); and, above all, ""My First Deer""--which includes the superbly Chaplin-esque moment when young Pat is careening down on a steep hill on his bicycle, a fallen buck draped over the handlebars. . . and then the deer (""shocked out of his pretence of death at the sight of the plummeting grade before us"") wakes up and starts fighting for control of the pedals. Less distinctive but also amusing: essays on live bait (""Worms, grubs, grasshoppers, minnows and the like are live bait, unless left unattended in a hot car too long, in which case they become dead bait""), tying flies, reading tracks, and Christmas presents (""Let me state here that there should be a law prohibiting any person who uses the term 'outdoorsie' from dispensing advice about what kinds of presents to buy an outdoorsman""). True, McManus often settles for stale old gags and routines. And strain shows in overlong one-joke ideas, like a TV-cooking show for campers or an adulterous affair, outdoorsperson-style (she slips into something ""more comfortable""--baggy pants and wool shirt--and then they. . . filet perch). But overall this is high-class humor--with echoes of Benchley, Buchwald, and better Bombeck--and even those with an aversion to deer-hunting may find themselves laughing right along.

Pub Date: June 8th, 1981
ISBN: 0805000305
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston