Patrick McManus (1933-2018)

This is a collection of the funniest short stories you’ll ever read.  McManus was raised on a small, more-or-less self-supporting farm near Sandpoint Idaho.  He paid his own way through college doing construction work and taught English at Eastern Washington State College for twenty years.  Then he wrote.

The first story features a new teacher at Delmore Blight Grade School, a young and enthusiastic Miss Deets.  One of Pat’s friends, Crazy Eddy Muldoon fell in love with her and at show and tell brought her a garter snake and a handful of night crawlers for a present.  Miss Deets resigned the next day.

Pigs tells the tale of Pat’s first ride on a large hog and goes on to give directions on coping with a station wagon full of stotes, with valuable advice on how to avoid messy and potentially dangerous situations while driving with one hand and fending off feral attacks with the other.  Dealing with police officers who have unreasonable prejudices against livestock in the driver’s seat is another useful explication.

Later we meet old Rancid Crabtree, the inhabitant of a disreputable shack sited at the end of an impassable dirt road, purveyor of valuable advice on fishing, hunting and other vices.  Pat’s grandma, in a weak moment, makes Rancid a nice thermos bottle of chicken noodle soup and has Pat and his friend Retch Sweeney take it to him in Miss Peabody, Pat’s “mountain car”:  a decrepit vehicle named after his first grade teacher.  Ms. Peabody, the teacher, decides to accompany them in order to visit an associate in the same vicinity.  She doesn’t complain at all about sitting on an old apple box while inhaling exhaust fumes from the non-existent muffler, but gets a bit upset about crossing a stream in high water on a bridge which is a foot deep under the raging element.  Later, at Rancid’s shack, Mr. Crabtree becomes irate at the soup because of the worms in it.

One winter Crazy Eddy and Pat manage to persuade Mr. Grogan, owner of the local war surplus store, to sell them a parachute for seven dollars.  He does, even though he’s apprehensive about being a contributing factor in a case of manslaughter.  But that’s not the situation al all;  all Pat and Eddy want to do is hitch the chute to their sled in order to put the constant winter winds to good purpose.  Mr. Crabtree becomes involved by contributing an old truck fender, which they agree would provide a better ride due to decreased friction than a sled would.  Rancid insists on trying out the apparatus first.  He straps the parachute cords around his waist and begins sliding down a hill.  The boys throw up the chute, it fills with wind and Rancid vanishes in a cloud of white.  Later, Eddy and Pat walk home, being treated with hot cocoa and muffins at a farm house when they get too cold.  A bit worried about Crabtree, they return to the shack the next day.  Rancid is lying in bed, covered with scratches and too sore to get up.  All he said was that it was a wonderful ride and he would have made it to the next county if he hadn’t accidentally been halted by a barbwire fence.

Wandering about looking for throwing rocks, Pat and Eddy practice aiming and fortuitously hit upon an abandoned chicken’s nest full of old eggs.  The smell is so powerful they can’t pass up the opportunity of making use of them, so they play war for a while, dodging from tree to tree and whooping whenever an egg splatters against the enemy.  Eddy seems to disappear for a while and Pat, hearing a noise in the brush, hurls his last egg, observing with some alarm, that the target had transformed itself into Eddy’s dad, who’d been looking for him.  Pat quietly practiced his indian skills and vacated the vicinity.

There are a lot more stories in this great book, and in McManus’s other volumes.  In fact, in this unpredictable and uncertain world, every intelligent and sensitive person should have a complete set of McManus’ work on the shelf to ward off and diminish unimportant and intrusive worldly ills.  Also, readers should invest in Mr. McManus’s series about Sheriff Bo Tully and his experiences interpreting the law according to his own lights.  There are six volumes in the latter sequence.   The first one is entitled “The Blight Way”.



  1. I haven’t read this collection, Mudpuddle, but I have very much enjoyed the McManus I have read. He has a very appealing style, and the wit is (in my opinion, anyway) done very effectively. Nice to see him featured here.


    1. he’s a very funny person… i understood he used to give lectures around the country. i’m sorry i never attended one; probably a riot and a half… i liked his Bo Tully books also, but i have to admit they weren’t as good as his short stories even though they were/are very readable…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. probably there’s one or two in your library… take a look, anyway: i guarantee they’ll brighten your day.. or at least allow you to forget the outside world for a while


  2. Oh man! I have read (and own) every single Pat McManus book (minus the later detective stories). Do you know I even wrote him a fan letter some years ago and he wrote me back?! I still have the e mail. I wrote something about enjoying hunting as much as I would enjoy waterboarding, but I absolutely loved his stories and that reveals what kind of writer he is that he would make someone who thinks every deer is Bambi love reading about hunting and fishing.

    He even visited a local bookstore in town where my sister worked. She got to meet him and her copies of his books are personally signed. Jealous? I am.

    He is one of my inspirations and when I get my first book published, I plan on dedicating it to him (and James Herriot).


    1. i remembered your dad reading them to your mom and just thought i’d read another one and post on it… in a way i think they epitomize some basic truth/experiences of life… really fine perceptive vision, i think…


  3. How come I have NEVER read this man??? OMG!! He sounds brilliant and I think I agree, books like these are a mandate to ward of all unpleasant and petty worrisome thoughts!! Thank You so much for introducing me to him.


    1. i hope you can find a copy over there; abebooks probably has them… it might be a sort of paradigm shift for you, but it would be very interesting i have no doubt!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. He’s really popular in the Spokane/Coeur d’Alene area (where he’s from). we visited Sandpoint once: nice little town. it has a bookstore inside a railroad car… it probably depends on your sense of humor… i think he’s EXTREMELY funny… but i grew up in Richland and had some resonance with his episodic perorations ahhaha…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. well, he’s not a member of the “great author” group, he’s just a humorist, but i find myself giggling uncontrollably when i read some of his stories…


  4. Interesting ….. I wouldn’t have naturally chosen him because he’s a little “new” for me but with your recommendation I will give him a try or at the least, put him on my TBR. I would like to find a modern author that I can appreciate!


    1. i think you’d like some of his tales, Cleo… especially if you like the woods or hiking or such endeavors: they have that sort of ambiance…


    1. my pleasure, Silvia… like i mentioned, i’m not a polished computerer; actually i call these reviews book reports as i am not at all formally proficient in analyzing literature… but reading is my main activity in addition to bike-riding, so here i am, typing away, haha…


      1. Call them what you want, they are wonderful to read. I don’t have the faintest idea about analyzing literature either, like you, I read and write a bit, and enjoy the conversation with friends.


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