Patrick McManus, The Deer On A Bicycle: Excursions Into the Writing of Humor (Spokane: Eastern Washington University Press, 2000), 188 pages.
After reading Sage’s review of The Deer On A Bicycle, I knew that I had to have the book. So, I did what any right thinking man would do,… I gave it to my wife for Christmas.
Patrick McManus will never read these words and those that follow. For, you see, Patrick McManus does not read reviews of his books.
Reading reviews, no matter how wonderful, is always a downer. you can read sentence after sentence of the most wonderful praise, but the reviewer, perhaps to indicate his objectivity, feels he must, near the very end of the review, insert at least one negative comment: “Even though this work is one of the three greatest novels every written, I did feel the author made excessive use of the comma.” In response, the enraged author screams, “What! How dare that fool criticize my commas?” One negative comment will burn holes in the authors’ psyche for years afterwards. Take my word, it is best not to read reviews. (page 13)
It is a shame that McManus will not read this review, because I have no intention of proving my objectivity. I am a huge McManus fan. Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie, and Patrick McManus.
McManus is one of the few great living humorists. He is James Thurber, Mark Twain, Dave Barry, Erma Bombeck, Mike Royko and Grandpappy Amos from the old television show The Real McCoys, all wrapped up into one…and then consigned to an asylum as a schizophrenic.
The Deer On A Bicycle is, as subtitled, Excursions Into the Writing of Humor. This book is a guide for writers of humor. As such, this book comes complete with all the standard accouterments of a book of this genre. McManus gives advice regarding the creative process, and practical advice on how to get your work into print, — query letters, venues for publication, agents, etc. However, the real strength of this book lies in the Stories With Commentary section. McManus shares some of his favorite pieces, discusses how he came to write them, and gives analysis on what it is that makes them humorous. I recommend that the reader start with the Stories and Commentary section first, and then after reading that to return to the beginning of the book and read the advice section which is formatted as responses to Newton’s Questions.
I recommend this book for the aspiring writer or for someone who has previously enjoyed McManus’ books. A reader not falling into one of those two categories would be better served with one of his humorous compilations such as The Good Samaritan Strikes Again or The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw.
Well, one last thing. Now that I have been thinking about it, … I do believe that McManus could have been more effective in the use of his commas.
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Carrie has reviewed The Deer on a Bicycle HERE.
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