“Never Sniff a Gift Fish” by Patrick McManus

Never Sniff A Gift Fish and A Fine and Pleasant Misery
by Patrick F. McManus

Patrick McManus the author, according to Kirkus Reviews, “writes high-class humor, with echoes of Benchley, Buchwald, and Bombeck.” He combines tall tales (of the over and understated variety), misdirection, and irony in poking fun at the folklore and idiosyncrasies of outdoor people, namely those who hunt, fish, camp, and hike. At the same time, I liken McManus, the protagonist, to the lovable but inept and clueless Tim Taylor of the hit television show “Home Improvement.” His misadventures would be funny enough without the added humor of “believing” himself to be the hero.

In both books, education is a favorite theme. With a mock seriousness, several stories aim to explain highly technical terms or concepts such as the chapter Fish Poles, and other Useful Terminology in Never Sniff a Gift Fish. I also enjoyed The Modified Stationary Panic from A Fine and Pleasant Misery. Others recount an educational experience such as the belly-laugher tale of his first deer hunt in A Yup of a Different Color from A Fine and Pleasant Misery.

Like all good storytellers, McManus has a treasure chest of colorful characters. Some of my favorites are: Rancid Crabtree the crusty old backwoodsman; Retch Sweeney and Fenton Quagmire, partners in crime; and Mr. Grogan the shifty war surplus merchant.

© Copyright 1996, 2008, Clancy Cross.  All rights reserved.

Some Patrick McManus Books at Amazon:

Never Sniff A Gift Fish
A Fine and Pleasant Misery

They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?
How I Got This Way
Rubber Legs and White Tail-Hairs