Into the Twilight, Endlessly Grousing by Patrick F. McManus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This volume of short stories contains what is most likely my favorite Patrick McManus story of all, the story that shares its name with the book. All in all, this volume of McManus stories is right on par with his many others. It's a bit light on Crazy Eddie Muldoon and Rancid Crabtree stories, my favorite brand of McManus stories, but it is still chock full of the outlandish outdoor adventures that McManus is known for. I think the one difference between this and stories he's done before is the quiet presence of an almost melancholy longing for a bygone era in his life. Never is this more evident than in the title story, "Into the Twilight, Endlessly Grousing".
Pat decides to take a elderly friend he calls "the old man" out for a day of grouse hunting, during which he witnesses everyone swooning over his adorable senior companion while Pat gets a steady peppering of criticism from the same old codger everyone is so enamored with. Pat stoically endures however, hinting at a great indebted respect he feels toward the old man. Through it all are the understated reminders that things have changed, that the local wilderness of Pat's glory days is long gone, and that the onslaught of progress isn't through with this community yet. From the changes that have overtaken Pat's favorite local eatery to the housing developments that have sprung up in nearly all of Pat's former hunting grounds, nothing has remained the same.
Only a master storyteller like McManus could so unsuspectingly interweave such a heavy sense of forlorn remembrance with truly innocent colloquial humor that leaves the reader feeling a bit giddy, yet simultaneously thoughtful. It's a reminder of the quality that McManus has been offering up for decades and a hopeful hint of the richness that's still to come.
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