| What if I got down on my knees? is a mix of poems, vignettes and short stories divided into four parts, told in an anecdotal style. The writing is very free, introspective and personal. Much of what might seem random at first becomes tangible and relatable, both when looking at each story and the cohesion of the book as a whole. Longing, regret and loneliness are often a focus, but there is more here. Much of the everyday, real life observations turn into substantial, beautiful and relevant themes of human nature.
These observations range from growing up, the changes involved, and how we deal with those changes:
“When we were younger, we were going to inflate the world, give it color and depth, but then we got too tired, worked too much, dissipated our energy, and then the world chased us away (from the idiot’s guide to morons).”
“Those kids are so lucky, they’re mostly unspoiled by life, not burdened, not burdened by their dreams, haven’t made too mistakes, haven’t had too many lies told about them or to them yet. I guess regrets are an indication you’ve lived a big life with lots of choices (from modern problems part 364,927).”
There is also a focus on the value of looking upon the past and keeping the memories that truly matter as we grow up:
“And I thought about being here so long ago, how that blackness filled me, held me in place like an ancient solid, and how it filled me to overflowing, and I’d do anything to empty some of it out, girls and drinking and yelling and running all around. But now it all seemed so empty, it all looked so blank and felt so cold, like there was nothing there at all, like it was all gone, like there was nothing left for anyone (from riding the range with the cowboy spies).”
Non-requited love also rears its’ head as a common theme for most of the characters. This is done with more than enough skill to keep it from ever becoming redundant. It was very easy to be the main character and empathize. While the 2nd half was stronger in my opinion than the first, it was original in the both sequencing of the stories and their subject matter throughout. My favorites were “In the Dust,” “I Used to Know Her,” “Modern Problems,” “Riding the Range With the Cowboy Spies,” “Hooray for all the Children,” and “How I Hope to Die.”
This book was loaded with introspective questions, struggling to balance the person inside and the one we show on the outside. What significance do we play in this thing we call life? What impression do we leave?
Tony Rauch’s voice is unique and worth the time put into reading this. When being descriptive, it was beautiful. When relaying the life experience and situations of the characters, I certainly related. 4 of 5 stars.