The quirky and wholeheartedly original book, what if i got down on my knees? by Tony Rauch is the epitome of what literature needs more of. The subtitle, “romantic misadventures and entanglements,” accurately sets the stage for what awaits the reader: complete absurdity told through short narratives. The book is composed of four parts: “please don’t go, even just for a little while,” “gusts in the alley” and “shiny things.” Within each part are a series of short stories that are funny, relatable and nothing short of unique, if a bit absurd.
Each section introduces entirely new stories, all of which convey varying themes from personal growth to young love to complete bizarreness. Unlike most widely read literature today, Rauch’s stories are divergent. What’s refreshing about this kind of disparate storytelling is that he keeps the readers eager and excited throughout. It is unknown what story the reader may encounter next. what if i got down on my knees? is a compilation of utterly random, yet oddly cohesive short narratives that are charming, humorous and stylistically novel.
The cultivation of dog clans to parade around town, a Bambi-induced depression, a fetish pornography photographer and a baby extracted from a man’s body are only a few of Rauch’s ridiculously entertaining tales. Coupled with these absurdities are introspective, almost poetic stories. In “Silhouette,” Rauch paints a story between a discordant couple, forgoing minute details in order to form their silhouette through writing. He explores both wacky and sentimental sides of literature in his stories.
A particularly zany story amongst Rauch’s compilation is one entitled “Congratulations.” In the story, a strange man approaches the protagonist. The man explains to him that he is pregnant and offers to extract the baby from him (trust me, it gets weirder). He then raises the protagonist’s shirt and, with one motion, the man removes the baby from the protagonist’s side. Someone has a mouse-sized baby lodged into the side of his body. This is the entire story. It is the weirdest thing I’ve ever encountered, but in the most compelling way. Rauch thoroughly experiments with his imagination as well as that of the reader.
what if i got down on my knees? is easily one of the most creative books I’ve read in a while. Rauch’s style is exciting, novel and imaginative. He doesn’t capitalize his titles or names (particularly the name Dave … poor Dave), and uses long, complex sentences to maintain the stream-of-consciousness style. Although this may sound like a grammatically-savvy individual’s worst nightmare, it works in Rauch’s favor. I found his unconventional style to be agnate to that of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (being a Vonnegut super-fan, I don’t say this lightly).
Whether you enjoy fantastical short stories or not, what if i got down on my knees? is well worth the read. Rauch’s short stories are so bizarre, yet intriguing that it isn’t difficult to get lost in his writing. His narratives flow in an anecdotal fashion and allow for easy reading. Through the series of humorous and outlandish debacles he discloses, Rauch provides the reader with an incredibly unique and exceptional piece of literature. If you’re on the market for something new, unpredictable and oddly comical, look into what if i got down on my knees? — it won’t disappoint.
Natalie Noblett is both fascinated and confused by what she’s read, but she demands that Tony Rauch’s writing not go unnoticed.