The Meaning of If: Stories
“You just have to admire all the possibilities,” says one character in Patrick Lawler’s short story collection,
The Meaning of If—a sentence that encapsulates the myriad of “if’s” explored in these pages. At times
surreal and yet so realistic, we hear each “muffled whisper,” we see each “muddy photograph,” we know
each “secret life,” as if it were our own. These are familial stories of transition and transformation—both
mental and physical—that consider the question “What if?”
From “When the Trees Speak”:
There is no way I could handle the cutting, the dragging, the stacking. And to suggest my sister would be involved is certainly absurd. She’s got more on her mind. And why would I arrange the logs in a self-incriminating way? I personally feel that would be ridiculous. Why would I leave my name at the scene of the crime–if that’s what you want to call it? None of it makes much sense, but especially that part.
Should I speak louder or anything? I mean, is this thing on? I don’t want to have to do this again. OK, I guess this is my statement. That’s it, right? First, let me say I didn’t do it. And second, I don’t know who did. That should be the end of it–but I know how people talk, so I just want to set the record straight. Though you should know this: I wouldn’t be upset if the person never got caught. Nothing against you, Ike. I mean, I know you got a job to do–protecting people and like that. But I got my job, too. Not as important in some ways, but in some other ways it’s more important. Helping to put a roof over people’s heads is nothing to look down at.
About the Author