I am not your typical Robert McManus fan. I was aware of his outdoor writing and columns – via my wife and father-in-law – but hadn’t really read any of his work. Although I grew up fishing and camping, I have never really been a hunter or an “outdoorsman” per se and so didn’t really read his columns or essays. Instead, I came to enjoy his quirky style and sense of humor through his recent Bo Tully Mysteries.
I enjoyed those books enough that when Kerplunk, a new collection of McManus essays, was released I decided to add it to my “office” reading (short essays or columns are ideal for this). And I am glad I did. Kerplunk turned out to be just what the publisher promised: a collection of “gently comic stories about outdoor life” and “folksy, wonderfully wise depictions of country life.”
As I noted above, despite a love for the outdoors, I would imagine I am not really the target demographic for McManus. I haven’t been camping or fishing in some time and have never really hunted. But you don’t have to have experienced everything that McManus has to appreciate his wit and insight. You just have to be a human being. I have been involved in enough camping trips and outdoor outings with family and friends to appreciate the truth in McManus’s slightly exaggerated and tongue-in-cheek stories of his adventures in the Pacific Northwest.
Of course, if you are a veteran hunter/camper/fisherman/outdoorsman than these stories will probably bring more than just a smile or chuckle – they will probably make you laugh out loud as you recall similar experiences. The more experience you have with the trials and tribulations involved in the outdoor life, the more you will relate to the perspective McManus brings and the folk wisdom that results from having been there and done that.
So if, like me, you have a relative or friend who loves to hunt, fish or explore the great outdoors – even if they don’t get to do it as often as they would like – Kerplunk would make a great gift or reading recommendation. In this case, the book flap copy really does offer a fair description of the book’s appeal:
These wry, curmudgeonly tales appeal to real outdoorsmen and the armchair variety alike. Often nostalgic, occasionally philosophical, and always funny, the stories in Kerplunk! reaffirm Patrick F. McManus’s reputation as an American classic.