Review: Say Not What If
Though I love reading I have never been the biggest fan of poetry. I do appreciate it as an art form but I’m one of these people that struggles to understand some of the meaning to a poem. When faced with Andrew Friedman’s Say Not What If I had not just a poem but a 10,000 word one to negotiate but one that is said to be easy to follow.
Say Not What If tells the story of a man on Death Row. Facing execution we are taken back through the key moments in his life leading up to the reason he has been tried and sentenced to death. He begins as a married man that works hard for his living, so hard it’s to the detriment of his marriage. One day he finds he is terminally ill and curses his ill fortune but there is an opportunity to save himself. Doing a deal with the fates the man is able to cure himself of his illness but at a heavy price.
Andrew Friedman’s poem can be read as a short story and, as promised, is very easy to follow. I’m one of these people that enjoys rhyme in poems and Friedman deploys this tactic well. The man at the centre of the story is somewhat unfortunate in that a life of hard work is rewarded with a failed marriage and a terminal illness. The depths he will plunge to though are appalling to say the least and the crime he later commits is not a pleasant one.
Say Not What If is a quick read and at around 50 pages you’ll be left lamenting that there isn’t more but what Friedman has given us is a well crafted and thought-provoking story/poem. The underlying message is of the value of our time in this world and we hear from different characters on this brief but eventful journey. One of the most striking moments was hear from one character whose life is cut short and they reflect on all the people they would have known, the love they would have shared and the children they would have had, all those things that will now never be.
Say Not What If offers an absorbing but tragic story that will stay with you after you’ve turned that final page. The narrator is both a hero and anti-hero given his actions but his voice is one you will want to hear right up until the end. Is there a last minute reprieve for our Death Row inmate? You’ll have to read the book yourself to find out.
(Book source: reviewer received a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review)