on October 15th, 1994
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Humor
Rating: I LOVED IT
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Patrick McManus, the bestselling author of such hilarious books as A Fine and Pleasant Misery and Never Sniff a Gift Fish, now offers readers solid thoughts on the qualities that define leadership, beginning with the need to be tall, and much more, in this outrageous collection of short pieces that reveals his tortuous trip along the writer's path.
This is a challenging review for me to write. I’ve not read something that could remotely be considered close to this genre since high school. I like my fiction. I only picked this up because a dear friend recommended it, and I trust his opinions. We have the same type of humor: slightly warped, dry, and nicely laced with sarcasm. I took forever to pick it up, and I only did so after he had a handy copy available when we last met in November. I read the first chapter and—just as he said I would—laughed. And I laughed more, then yet some more. I laughed a lot. More so than I have in any other book I’ve ever read. Yep, McManus has a wonderfully warped sense of humor. But . . .
As much as I laughed, I still had a problem motivating myself to pick this up each day. It’s a short book that took me entirely too long to read. I’ve picked apart my brain trying to figure out why and I’ve drawn a sketchy conclusion: I love fiction. I like made up crap. This was more of a personal memoir that was insanely funny, but still based on non-fiction. Also, this book was a chaotic walk through McManus’s mind. Meaning, one chapter we would be in a short story from his childhood, the next one from adulthood, and another chapter wasn’t even a story but simply musings. I wouldn’t call this a deterrent for me, but it jump around so much that there was nothing to look forward to because it was so randomly done that you never knew exactly where McManus’s mind would take you. However, that was also part of its charm. I enjoyed the mystery of it all. But once you combine a bunch of stuff, I just found myself struggling to pick it up. Make no mistake, once I did I laughed and laughed and thought what a great book I was reading. Thus why this review is a tad bit challenging. Let’s not even get into how long I labored over the correct rating.
Now, when I say that McManus has a lovely sense of humor, I’m really not kidding. I tried to find an excerpt that would show off the author’s brilliant way with not only his humor but also his prose, but his humor is built over the story. Having only one side of it would not be nearly as hysterical as having the whole story. So sadly, I have nothing in the way of an example, but read the sample and if it has you smiling, I guarantee it only gets better. Gosh, my negative section is so long, but I can’t stress enough about the relentless humor in this book. If I wrote anymore, I’d just be repeating the same words: It’s funny and often had me laughing out loud, sometimes enough that I had to wipe a tear.
Because it’s so funny, I dare say some will not notice how brilliantly McManus can weave a sentence. His writing was amazing! I absolutely loved his imagery and efficient use of short descriptions. And the way he wove in humor to even a mundane scene setting was nothing shy of remarkable.
So, will I read any of McManus’s other works? Absolutely. But I won’t push myself to finish them. Since his musings are so random, I could have easily picked up this book whenever I needed a laugh, read a chapter, wipe away joyful tears, and walk away a little lighter. For those with memoir experience and love, this will be simply delightful and I highly recommend it. It’s short, charming, and damn funny.