The Grasshopper Trap

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The tone of this book is set with a short story on the author’s experience as a young boy on the farm. He and a friend, Crazy Eddie Muldoon, dig a deep hole in Eddie’s backyard. The hole is not only aesthetically pleasing to the boys, but it also is found to serve a purely practical purpose as a wild animal trap. Yet, the only “animals” wild or foolish enough to be captured are Eddie’s father, and a skunk--both caught at the same time. From this point onward, the stories move from one misadventure to the next, linked by humor and experiences in the great outdoors.

“The Grasshopper Trap” is perhaps one of the funniest stories in the collection. The narrator, Crazy Eddie, and an old woodsman, Rancid Crabtree, decide to go into the business of catching grasshoppers to sell to local fishermen. They build a trap which is held in place by Rancid from the back of an old pickup truck. Crazy Eddie, underage and barely able to look over the steering wheel, drives with the narrator beside him, and then the fun begins! They drive out to an old country road, and with the trap over the side of the truck, they drive slowly along while the grasshoppers are scooped up into the backet. Confusion reigns when Rancid mixes up his hand signals from the back of the truck.

McManus is a skillful storyteller, while at the same time creating situations which automatically elicit laughter from the reader. This interesting combination provides several hours of enjoyable entertainment. From accounts of early childhood experiences to the definition of a sleeping-bag shucker, there is not one dull page in the book.