Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview and #mini-interview ‘what if I got down on my knees’ by Tony Rauch. For readers who enjoy short-stories, love language and the unusual.

Hi all:

As I promised, I’m coming to the end of the reviews I had accumulated, but I had a couple I had only shared on Lit World Interviews that I wanted to share here. Today’s, not only because of the book but also because the author kindly offered me a mini-interview.

what if I got down on my knees by Tony Rauch
what if I got down on my knees by Tony Rauch

Title:   what if I got down on my knees
Author:   Tony Rauch
ISBN:  098293355X

ISBN13:  978-0982933558
Published:  Whistling Shade Press; 1 edition (May 31, 2015)
Pages:  189
Genre:  Literary Fiction/Short stories


what if i got down on my knees? presents romantic misadventures and entanglements of absurd, whimsical, existential longing, featuring discovery, secrets, identity, escape, strange happenings, endurance, regret, and hope. The stories are little postcards from the lonely regions of the human heart.

These tales of wonder are about people trying to find meaning and a place in an indifferent world, and their discoveries, revelations, secrets, failures, struggles, connections, and odd encounters along the way—

—two unemployed men steal dogs and run them through buildings around town.
—a man goes on what turns into the worst date in recorded history.
—you are asked to baby-sit for a neighbor, only to find a giant baby waiting for you.
—a man comes home to find his entire yard and home paved over by a long lost rival.
—a clerk at a used record store finds a man has passed away on one of the couches.
—some young adults go into the basement to get sad, in order to impress girls.
—a stranger extracts a baby from a man waiting for the bus.

With themes of longing, fragility, uncertainty, impermanence, regret, the mysteries hidden in everyday life, discovery, ennui, loneliness, irresponsible behavior, confusion, change, identity, and absurd situations, Tony Rauch is a worthy successor to the artistry and absurdism of Donald Barthelme and Steve Martin.

 Body of review:

I received a copy of this novel from the author and I voluntarily review it for Lit World Interviews.

Short stories are an acquired taste. We might think a short read is perfect because we are always rushing and don’t have a lot of time, but sometimes we might feel disappointed when the story ends and we’ve invested time and, in the best of cases, emotions only to have to get to know some new characters after a few pages. Of course, not all short stories are born equal. And this collection of short stories by Tony Rauch proves the point.

Some of the short stories in this collection are whimsical (surreal) and might leave you scratching your head (or looking up to the sky searching for… No spoilers) , some are vignettes illustrating the lives of people who might appear content with their lives at a superficial level, but whose thoughts and worries run deeper than it seems, many are about lonely people wondering about others and trying to connect (in some occasions with hilarious consequences), some are about pretending to be something or somebody else, about growing up, about growing old, about moving on or remembering the past…

The quality of the writing is superb, and the first person narratives cleverly capture the speech and rhythms of the characters, who sometimes are talking to others, sometimes conducting an internal monologue with themselves, or even writing a story. From young kids trying to impress their friends to old men dying, from people contemplating a new relationship to others letting go, these few pages run the whole gamut of experiences and emotions.

To give you some examples:

His skin appeared two sizes too tight for his body, stiff and washed out, like he’d gotten it secondhand, or found it in an alley late at night.

His suit is mythical—straight, lean, long, pure, giving, musical, thoughtful, caring, dynamic, cosmopolitan, unselfish, strong, industrious, and nostalgic for his mother, her peanut butter cookies, and snowy Christmas mornings.

“And what would someone do with a dream of mine? Where would you keep it?”

“I’d stretch it out to create a sail, and then use it to float off to who knows where,” I advise.

 Some of the stories are nostalgic and melancholy, but there are great comedic moments, ranging from slapstick to joyful turns of phrase (and oh, a so very satisfying revenge story).  Another example I highlighted:

Eventually, he turned up in over 3000 cans of a popular brand of tuna. A horrible fate to be sure, and amplified by the fact that the guy was notoriously reputed to detest tuna.

I won’t tell you which stories I liked the most as I’d find it difficult. I checked the reviews, and on reading the comments when the reviewers mentioned a story or another I’d agree with them. So… Just go and read them and enjoy their variety.

 What the book is about: Many things: growing up, life, dreams, realities, loneliness, relationships, friendship, revenge, writing…

 Book Highlights: The quality of the writing and the very distinct characters and voices. The whimsical sense of humour.

 Challenges of the book: Sometimes with the electronic version I wasn’t clear when I had moved from one story to another. The titles of the individual stories and the different parts weren’t always easy to tell apart.

Although the book is not long, I think it is best taken slowly and savouring the quality of the writing, rather than rushing to get to the end of the story. It is not a book to be read in a hurry.

 What do you get from it: Beautiful writing, stories that make you think and a few laughs.

 What I would have changed if anything: As I mentioned perhaps change the size of the titles or the formatting (in the digital version) to make the divisions clearer.

 Who Would I recommend this book to?: To readers who enjoy language and a mood more than heavily plotted stories (although there are some great ones too). And to writers who are considering writing short stories, or just keen on exploring the many ways characterization works.

Realistic Characterization: 4.5/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Buy it at:  
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $12 

Kindle: $3.22 

Author Tony Rauch
Author Tony Rauch

And now, I asked a few questions to the author:

People have less and less time these days and short forms of writing are becoming more and more popular. From flash-fiction to microfiction and even stories told in Tweets, it’s all about brevity. Of course, the short story has a long tradition, but what is for you a short story? And what makes it (so far) your preferred choice when writing? –

For me a short story is anything that conveys a feeling, or an event, or that sets up an event that may then spring forward. It does not have to have a beginning or an ending. I like story starters, that is a written piece that poses a situation or premise, and then you have to imagine various outcomes. But the premise is so interesting it creates that zing in your brain and gets you thinking. That to me is a good story: anything that kick-starts that zing in your imagination and gets you thinking on a different track or about various possibilities.

I prefer the short form because I don’t need a lot of useless background info that longer work sometimes gets bogged down in. I don’t have a lot of free time, so the short form is good for getting ideas down. I have a lot of different ideas, so the short form works well in sorting them into more organized paradigms.

Tony Rauch in action
Tony Rauch in action

Who are your favourite writers, in general, and writers of short stories (if they aren’t the same ones)? Why? What have you learned from them? –

Favorite authors, influences: Anyone interesting, imaginative, and concise. Anyone who makes you think.

Mostly I like short stories as they get to the point quickly. The books that really inspired me are mostly imaginative story collections because they were exciting and new and you never knew what was going to happen next in them. Also, they were brief, which made them memorable and easily digestible.

I like strange or absurd adventures that are well crafted and have a meaning to them, and sci fi as it offers ideas. Reading these types of writers is like taking mini adventures that I could not experience otherwise in the limitations of my actual life –

Older writers:

Donald Barthelme, J.D. Salinger, Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Charles Bukowski, Leonard Michaels (murderers), Mark Twain, James Thurber, Antoine de Saint Exupery (the little prince), Dr. Seuss (cool illustrations), Roald Dahl, Steve Martin (cruel shoes), W.P. Kinsella (the alligator report), Jim Heynen (the man who kept cigars in his cap), Don Delillo.

Contemporary writers:

Barry Yourgrau, Mark Leyner, Adrienne Clasky (from the floodlands), Lydia Davis (Samuel Johnson is indignant), Etgar Keret, Stacey Richter, George Singleton, James Tate (Return to the city of white donkeys), Thom Jones, Italo Calvino, Stephen-Paul Martin, Will Self, Denis Johnson (Jesus’ son), David Gilbert (I shot the hairdresser), David Sedaris, Paul Di Filippo, D. Harlan Wilson, Andersen Prunty.

Science fiction from the 40s, 50s, and 60s:

Rod Serling, L. Sprague De Camp, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K. Dick, Aurthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Charles Beaumont, Ursula K. Le Guin, Douglas Adams (an 80’s writer), etc.

Author Tony Rauch trying to grab the intangible
Author Tony Rauch trying to grab the intangible

Many writers read this blog. I subscribe to the advice that one should read in order to improve one’s writing. I know it will be a difficult choice, but any stories in particular that have had an impact on you or have increased your understanding of the form? 

Yes, many – see the list of authors above. One thing I look for is that buzz or zing when they convey a feeling or present something I hadn’t ever seen before. For example, I like that F. Scott Fitzgerald story “Winter dreams” because in it the character changes, or his feelings for someone changes. I like that arc, that sense of change the character goes through in a story. That story presents a loss, and the character’s feelings about that change and loss.

Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?

Yes, it is:

You can find book information and story samples on that bad boy of rock and roll.

If you know of any good publishers looking for arty story collections, please let them know about me. I’m always looking for good publishers. A lot of places don’t publish single author story collections.

Thank you for your time.

Thanks very much to Tony Rauch for his book and for answering my questions, thanks to you  for reading, and don’t forget to like, share, comment, and CLICK!

Olga Núñez Miret




Book launch book promo Cover reveal Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings

Help,please! Which #cover do you prefer? My WIP is getting closer but can’t decide. #Tuesdaybookblog

Hi all:

Sorry to bother you again today. I wasn’t planning on sharing another post today, but my cover artist, Ernesto Valdés, sent me three suggestions (well, the same cover in different colours) for my next book, Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies and I’ve been checking the covers and sharing with some people for the last few days but can’t make up my mind. As I had already programmed a review for today that I had read as a member of Rosie’s team I didn’t want to change that, but I know this will be bothering me for a while. Any chance you could give me  your opinion?

This is the description so far…

The Case of the Swapped Bodies (Escaping Psychiatry 2)

A woman shot dead. No enemies, no motive, only a story about how she swapped bodies with another woman in her computer. The other woman in the story, the owner of the swapped body, goes into labour and won’t talk.

When FBI Agent Dave Dean asks psychiatrist/writer Mary Miller for her assistance, she doesn’t know that The Case of the Swapped Bodies is not the only mystery in Port Haven. A hit and run, an armed robbery gone wrong and questions about family traditions, priorities and legacies come into play and complicate matters. The line between fact and fiction is more tenuous than anybody realised and suspense is on the menu.

This is the third book in the Escaping Psychiatry series and it poses new challenges for Mary Miller. And not all the challenges are professional ones. How do you carry on when you’ve survived the unthinkable?

Here the three suggested covers

Number 1

Possible cover 1
Possible cover 1

Number 2

Possible cover 2
Possible cover 2

Number 3

Possible cover 3
Possible cover 3

So you can take a more informed decision, these are the covers of the first two.

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry
Escaping Psychiatry Cover by Ernesto Valdés

All help will be appreciated. I promise to share a bit more about the novel soon (I’m waiting on edits but if anybody fancies an early read I hope we should be able to get some copies ready soon), but this is going around my head (with a few other things…) Ah, and just in case, a quick reminder that the prequel is available free in most places.

Ah, and although this is something different, as the post is about the genre (more or less), I thought I’d take the chance to share this survey that Lit World Interviews are running about the genre mystery. Why do you like it? Check here and go answer!

Thanks so much for mostly checking and looking, please, let me know what you think, and like, share, comment and bring everybody! Oh, and don’t forget to reply to the survey!

Guest author post

#Guestpost “Two countries separated by the same language” by Wendy Janes (@wendyproof). You say potato and I say…

Hi all:

As you know I’m taking a bit of a breather from my regular blogging to recover from recent emotions (my mother is doing much better, thanks) but as luck would have it, I have been in contact with Wendy Janes whom I met through Lit World Interviews (check here for one of her fabulous guest posts there). She is a fabulous writer and an excellent proofreader and she kindly pointed out a couple of things in one of my books that had bypassed my and my proofreader’s keen eye. I suggested she could share one of her posts in my blog, and she produced a wonderful post about the differences between UK and US English, something that as a translator I get asked about and think about often. The post was too good to just keep it waiting, so here it comes.

Wendy Janes author and proofreader extraordinaire
Wendy Janes author and proofreader extraordinaire

“Two countries separated by the same language”

Thank you to Olga for inviting me to write a guest post. As Olga is a translator I decided to choose a topic relevant to that aspect of her professional life. Unfortunately, my only knowledge of a language beyond English is the limited French I learned at school squillions of years ago. However, thinking about different languages brought to mind the similarities and differences between US and UK English, and how important it is for authors to be aware of the differences so that they don’t unwittingly mix them up.


I’m not advocating sticking slavishly to the rules. If an author does choose to mix things up, that’s fine, as long as he or she is making an informed decision, which is applied consistently throughout. (I’ve chosen to use UK spelling and US double quotes throughout this post. J)


In my role as a proofreader, I can do a much better job focusing on spotting typos and ensuring consistency if an author has already spent time making decisions (perhaps with an editor) on things like US or UK punctuation, spelling and style.


I have a basic US/UK checklist that I refer to when I start working on a proof. I’ve selected some items from it to produce the following six points which I hope you’ll find useful:


  1. Generally, for speech, quotations and emphasised words, US English uses double quotes and UK English uses single. Fortunately, the rules for punctuating speech are the same. However, they are different for quotations and emphasised words, which are set with commas and full stops inside quote marks in US English, and outside in UK English, as follows:


US: Edith was feeling a little “emotional.”

UK: Edith was feeling a little “emotional”.


  1. When dashes are used parenthetically they generally appear as unspaced em dashes in US English, and spaced en dashes in UK:


US: Edward had a quiet—but far too brief—moment to himself.

UK: Edward had a quiet – but far too brief – moment to himself.


  1. If you are referring to Mr, Mrs and Dr, these words are followed by the period/full stop in US English. UK English omits it.


  1. US English usually uses the Oxford or serial comma, while UK English does not, unless it’s needed for meaning.


  1. US English sets dates as Month, Day, Year, while UK English sets dates as Day, Month, Year.


US: January 14, 2010 or 1/14/2010

UK: 14 January 2010 or 14/1/2010


Where this can cause confusion is when a date such as 6 April 2010 is presented in numerals. US style would show this as 4/6/2010, which looks like 4 June to a UK reader.


  1. When it comes to spelling, I think most people are familiar with the following:









However, some of our spelling differences result in different meanings for US and UK readers, so authors need to be alert to these. For example, in US English you can pay for goods with a check, but in UK English, it’s a cheque.


Having established the basics, I’d now like to chat for a while about word choice, which I hope you’ll find as fascinating as I do.


Last year I proofread a book by an American author, set in the US and peopled by American characters. One sentence that really brought home to me the differences in our common language ran as follows:


“The Asian man sat in the diner wearing his new pants, eating chips, and watching football on the TV.”


As an English reader I am picturing an Indian man, sitting in a restaurant in his underpants, eating French fries while watching people kicking a round ball in a game that Americans would call soccer. I understand that an American reader could be picturing a Chinese man wearing trousers, eating what I’d describe as crunchy thin fried potato slices while watching people kicking and throwing an oval-shaped ball in a game that I would call American football.


I find I often have to “translate” words such as smart, mad and purse. For example:


“The smart woman was so mad she threw her purse on the floor.”


I picture a well-dressed woman who is insane, throwing to the floor the small object where she keeps her money, while I understand that an American reader would see a clever woman who is angry, throwing what I would call her handbag to the floor.


If an author would like his or her book to be enjoyed by people on both sides of the pond and elsewhere, I advise double-checking the text for clarity. I suggest re-working sentences to ensure that the intended meaning is as clear as possible. Adding a little extra context can help avoid confusion.


I’ve recently proofread a couple of books written by UK-based authors that were set in the US and had a mix of American and English character. One author chose to follow US style of spelling and punctuation and the other UK style, which was absolutely fine. Where things became a little complex was with direct thoughts and dialogue. There’s something jarring when an American character refers to pavement, lift, nappy and tap, and an English character says sidewalk, elevator, diaper and faucet. However, it’s not always clear cut, and I encourage authors to think carefully about their characters before making a decision.


It may be that the American secret agent in a novel has lived for so many years in England that he would naturally talk about walking along the pavement. His English-born contact may have watched so much American television that he would refer to the sidewalk.


In another book I proofread, there was a terrific tangle with the word mom/mum. The book was written in UK English, but an American character’s internal thoughts and spoken dialogue used both mom and mum. I think this one was difficult to call, but a call needed to be made. On the one hand, if we kept the UK English for everyone except the American character’s internal thoughts and spoken dialogue, then there was a danger the text would look inconsistent. On the other hand, having an American character referring to his “mum” could sound inauthentic.


If you’re keen to read more, The New Oxford Style Manual has a whole chapter about the differences between US and UK English.


Wherever you are in the world, whether you’re a reader or a writer, I hope you have enjoyed this post.

Here a bit more information about Wendy:

Wendy Janes lives in London with her husband and youngest son. She is a freelance proofreader (see her website here ), and a caseworker for The National Autistic Society’s Education Rights Service.


Wendy has contributed a number of short stories to anthologies, and her first solo novel, What Jennifer Knows, was published in 2015. A selection of short stories entitled What Tim Knows, and other stories will be available in the summer of 2016.


Her writing is inspired by family, friends, and everyday events that only require a little twist to become entertaining fiction.


You can connect with Wendy online via Twitter, and discover more about her writing on her Facebook author page, and Amazon author pages (UK/US).

I could not resist and had to share a bit more information about Wendy’s book (and I hope to share the next one too). It’s Friday after all!

What Jennifer Knows by Wendy Janes
What Jennifer Knows by Wendy Janes

What Jennifer Knows by Wendy Janes

A vital member of her Surrey community, Jennifer Jacobs is dedicated to her job as a dance therapist, helping children with special needs to express themselves through movement. Wife of a successful though reclusive sculptor, Gerald, she is known for having a deep sense of empathy, making her a trusted confidante. So when two very different friends, Freya and Abi, both share information with her that at first seems to be an awkward coincidence, she doesn’t tell them. But as the weeks roll by, the link revealed between the two women begins to escalate into a full-blown moral dilemma – and also brings to the surface a painful memory Jennifer believed she had long since forgotten. What is the right thing to do? Should she speak out or is the truth better left unsaid?


Thanks so much to Wendy Janes for her very informative post, and for her help with my own book, thanks to all for reading, and please, like, share, comment and CLICK!

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