cover image The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw

The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw

Patrick F. McManus. Henry Holt & Company, $19.95 (184pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-1033-6

McManus ( The Grasshopper Trap ) has been making outdoorsmen laugh for some time now, but his new collection of writing passes a sterner test. Here he can amuse someone who's never even baited a hook. McManus's stories generally involve either the comic misadventures of life in the wild (``A Road Less Travelled By''; ``Gunkholing''; ``Water Spirits'') or first-person coming-of-age stories set in rural America (``The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw''; ``Scritch's Creek''). His comic voice, resonating with a surprising depth of wit, is expressed in a pleasant, quirky prose style--but shows a tendency to get cute. Characters cry ``Owww!'' and ``Arrrhhhh'' and ``Arp!'' incessantly and excessively, and the author indulges a fondness for italic type: ``I . . . gasp . . . forgot my billfold. It's . . . pant . . . in my tackle box. Get it for me . . . choke . . . will you?'' This talented writer doesn't need to poke readers in the ribs to let them in on the joke. Author tour. (June)