ISD Bookshelf: ‘What If I Got Down on My Knees’

Dalton Gackle

Remember all the times you just let your thoughts wander? You thought of everything and anything. Some thoughts were simple, some existential, while others were normal and still others strange.

“What If I Got Down on My Knees” is a collection of these thoughts. Tony Rauch thought to write them down.

Many of the stories touch on some sort of relationship, whether it be with a friend, a neighbor or a potential partner. Some of the stories peek into a world of a budding relationship, others into a lasting one. Both types of relationships can be more permanent, but it focuses more on those relationships that fade away, and other stories observe a relationship.

The first portion of the book, “please don’t go,” focuses on the relationships that have been lost or have faded away.

The story “I used to know her” was my favorite from this section. It was especially relatable to an average male hoping to find a way to be noticed by the girl of his dreams. It contained the fearful and nervous thoughts guys think about when he finds a girl he likes. If you tell her how you feel it might go well or it might cause a quality friendship to turn into an awkward passing ‘hello.’

The second section, “even just for a little while,” features a few odd stories, a glimpse into the writer’s life and a collection of mini stories and blurbs — the collection of extended thoughts.

Two of the blurbs were very interesting. The first is titled “the knockout.” It centers around the thoughts that go through a guy’s head when he tries to talk to an attractive girl, but is always interrupted by a guy who is more in her league.

The second is called “modern problems (part 364,927).” It was a fascinating look at the use of clones, but more than that, it was a rambling of thoughts as a man walks down the street. It is an accurate description of the thought process while just going somewhere — how we see the things around us but do not pay much attention to them. They remind us of something or lead us to another thought. This piece is like a map to a string of thoughts.

The third section, “gusts in the alleys,” presents a couple more odd stories, one about dreams and the other about a giant baby, as well as two of my favorite stories from the book. The first, “the idiot’s guide to morons,” is an extended scene of thought. It carries many different themes — longing, loss and regret — that place the reader inside the mind of a man and a friend.

The entire story is written as the man is thinking. It is broken up into different portions, but each one relates to the next. There is little capitalization in the piece. The only name that is capitalized is when the man is referring to himself as ‘I’.

There are also very few sentences. It is mostly just one run-on sentence broken into chunks. The sentence keeps going just like thoughts keep going. It was a brilliant way to create a sense of being immersed in thought.

The second piece, “in the sun,” was a small look into a lost love. The scenes it described were potent, making it easy to find yourself feeling like they were your own memories.

The final section, “shiny things,” contained some more unique stories, including a couple that touches on death. One story follows the path of revenge a man takes against the bullies from his school days.

The most comforting story was “riding the range with the cowboy spies.” It offers an alternative ending to that of “I used to know her.” Finally, a character gets the girl, but not in any cliché type of way. The girl finally comes to the guy. The characters sit and share their thoughts in a heartwarming story.

I thought the story that should have ended the book is “how I hope to die.” It outlined the realization of one of the best ways to leave this earth. Just put on your favorite record, sit back on the couch and close your eyes. Go out on your own terms. Then, if it were possible, your funeral would not contain a traditional eulogy. Instead, Neil Pert, the famed drummer from Rush, would represent your life with an epic drum solo.

Rauch’s writing style is simple and inviting. His stories are short but full. Some display thought, others make you think. The stories are ideal for busy students. They are quick and engaging, perfect for reading one or two in your spare time without a commitment to anything too long or consuming.