Creator / Patrick McManus
Patrick F. McManus (born 1933) is an American humorist who writes about outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing; for many years he contributed comedic essays and short stories to (and served as an "editor-at-large" for) Outdoor Life
magazine. Said stories, which have also been reprinted in several book collections, usually focus on his misadventures in the outdoors or recount highly-fictionalized anecdotes from his youth, which was mostly spent in the small town of Sandpoint (aka "Blight"
), Idaho. McManus' dry style of humor has invited comparisons to Mark Twain
and S. J. Perelman
, among others.
After the Turn of the Millennium
, he turned to writing a series of comedic mystery novels
set in an even more fictionalized modern-day Blight; the sheriff protagonist's elderly father is essentially an Author Avatar
. The last of these was published in 2014, and McManus announced on his (now defunct) webpage that he now considers himself essentially retired from writing.
His work contains examples of:
- Big Brother Bully: His older sister Patricia, AKA "The Troll", who was also something of a pint-sized Genius Bruiser.
- Blatant Lies: See below under Self-Deprecation.
- Brick Joke: His articles often end with one of these. A typical example is an article where he "markets" his useful outdoor inventions, one of which is an Automatic Fish-Scaler, which works by hypnotizing your spouse into loving to scale fish. At the end of the article, it's revealed his wife Bun used it on him to make him clean the basement.
- Ambiguous Syntax: After swerving to avoid running over a skunk:
"My goodness! What would you have done if you'd hit that skunk with the car?"
"The only thing to do," I said, "I'd have stopped and buried it in the ditch. I might have buried the skunk while I was at it."
- Bungling Inventor: Crazy Eddie Muldoon is a kid version of this.
- Captain Ersatz: Not of anyone famous, but of the people he grew up with.
- Christmas Episode: Nearly every one of his books includes a Christmas-themed story.
- Cool Uncle: His Uncle Flynn, a ne'er-to-well gambler.
- Deadpan Snarker: Pat himself is often one of these, as are many of the other people in his stories.
- Disappeared Dad: Pat's father died when he was a boy, and consequently appears very rarely in his stories. His stepfather Hank turns up fairly often, however.
- The Ditz: Several inhabitants of Blight, such as Pat's cousin Buck and his best friend Retch Sweeney.
- Early Installment Weirdness: It took him a while to work out his cast of characters in the tales of his youth; one early story features a friend named "Stupe" Jones who made that one appearance and then disappeared for good, replaced with Crazy Eddie and Retch.
- Funetik Aksent: Rancid Crabtree's dialogue is rendered in this fashion.
- Gilligan Cut: Happens occasionally in his stories. For example:
"Ha!" I said. "There's no way I'm going to go down that river in a rowboat. A person would have to be out of his mind to take a rowboat down that river!"
Hours later, Hoov was still in a wretched mood. "Row to the right," he commanded.
- Greasy Spoon: Greasy Gert's Gas 'n' Grub, a truck stop that appears in some of his tales.
- Henpecked Husband: He often depicts himself as one of these.
- Honest John's Dealership: Henry P. Grogan's War Surplus.
- Horrible Camping Trip: Several examples over the years, one of the more memorable being "the Big Trip" he did as a youth through the mountains with a friend who was fictionalized as Retch Sweeny; they ended up with nothing to eat but instant chicken-noodle mix, and suffered through a midnight lightning strike.
- Lethal Chef:
- Important hunting-camp tip: never ever eat the green hash.
- Also mentioned in the same narrative as Green Hash is Whatcha-Got Stew, a concoction which is always improvised on the spot and composed of whatever foodstuffs the campers have in their possession, regardless of whether or not said foodstuffs were ever intended to be used together. Instructions for preparation include not staring directly into the pot.
- Mountain Man: His childhood mentor, Rancid Crabtree, who never bathed, was severely allergic to work, and fulfilled his modest needs by running a trapline in the woods.
- Narrative Profanity Filter: "Bleeping bleep of a bleep!"
- No Sense of Direction: McManus himself; he invented the Modified Stationary Panic, which helps keep you from getting even more lost.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: McManus sometimes depicts himself in his stories as not being terribly bright, especially as a kid in school.
- The Omnipresent: Sneed, the game warden, is implied to have these abilities because of his tendency to instantly materialize wherever a hunting or fishing violation is occurring.
"Man, this is hard! It's a good thing there's four of us to drag this here deer, 'cause otherwise I don't think we'd make it."
"Ain't s'posed to be but three of us draggin' this deer."
"Ain't s'posed to be nobody draggin' it!"
- The Pig Pen: Rancid, who normally bathed only on leap years, and whose smell could "drive ticks off a dead badger".
- Quick Nip: The narrator's hunting companions are very fond of this trope, to the point that whoever is carrying the hip flask (and shares its contents) gets to be in charge.
- Rambling Old Man Monologue: He displays an appreciation for these over the years, and eventually starts indulging in them himself.
- Self-Deprecation: A Running Gag in his writing is his own inability to successfully hunt or fish for pretty much anything.
- From his book The Grasshopper Trap:
"..I have based the program on my own vast knowledge of fishing. In effect, it will be just as if the fisherman had me at his side, offering expert advice. As soon as I can figure out why the computer keeps telling outrageous lies and reminiscing about the old days, I'll get it patented."
- Unreliable Narrator: Other characters (most commonly his wife, Bun) will sometimes imply that he's one of these.
- Unusual Euphemism: His neighbor Al Finley likes to call people by crude anatomical names, like "elbow" or "kneecap".
- You Can Panic Now: The trick is to do it while standing in place, rather than running blindly into the next tree. Or state.