Views on I Did not Know What to Say So I Just Said Thanks

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A collection of quiet everyday life stories that illustrate the difficult choices and seemingly subtle contritions of everyday life.
The characters of the 19 stories that make up David Joseph I didn’t know what to say, so I just said Thank you, don’t live what many would consider a sensational life. They spend their days in delicatessens or cavers, or fishing alone by the river. These are waitresses, border patrol, milkmen, husbands and wives. You spend a lot of time thinking and thinking about your future, your relationships and the mistakes of your past. But Joseph takes a close look at his characters to show the reader that changes happen in those quiet and thoughtful moments of life when life inevitably changes. Although the cover story may occur during a meal or during a drive of a few kilometers, the scope of the story explores a lifetime.

“Highway 5”, the sixth story of the collection, illustrates this extension. When Roland, a truck driver, is overtaken by a family in a minivan, he does not expect to find their car turned over a few kilometers down the road, the passengers dead. Although tragic, The wreck itself does not change Roland, but it is his reaction, the ability to separate. He learned about this emotional distance during his time in the army. It’s a skill he wished he didn’t know, but he did. He had already done it and he acted quickly and calmly.”It is the horrors of his past that terrify him, their resurgence is superimposed on this scene.

While “Highway 5” may be one of the most sensational stories, others remain in moments of calm. “Fish That Leap” follows a man who swims in the river with his kayak, reflecting on his alcohol consumption and his annulment. And the last two stories, “widower” and “leaved city”, take place mainly in the form of conversations, the first between two old men and the second between a husband and a wife. In both stories, the characters feel on the verge of change and don’t know how to react. The third story, “Locals”, is told by a man who visits a bar in a small town and, while working on his pint of Guinness, experience an argument between the bartender and a businessman who wants to buy and level the Bar. The narrator listens as the persistent local’s anger intensifies, noting that “the past and the future have always been overcome against each other, and the locals have considered the concept of adaptation to be the definition of failure.”

Although the stories are quiet, Joseph does not deviate from those concise judgments that permeate the subtle narration of the harsh truth. A disciple of Hemingway and Raymond Carver, his prose is as frugal as possible, offering just enough information to understand the character and the environment before plunging into the conflict at the center of the story. But pointed assertions add spice to the collection, as in “The Anniversary,” when a son helps his cancer-stricken mother get to the car. The narrator says: “I could feel her leaning towards me, partly apologizing, partly acknowledging.And he comments: “Mothers are not even supposed to silently apologize to their sons. It should be the other way around.”These comments about the role reversal between a sick mother and her son are heartbreaking, sharp as a knife.

Without a doubt, David Joseph is an insightful observer of humanity and the stories of I didn’t know what to say, so I just said THANK YOU, are full of information about the human condition. He knows the traumas that haunt us and the way these persecutions manifest themselves throughout life, and he understands the struggles, the difficult choices that we all postpone until they weigh a thousand tons. Although the collection contains references to government policy and societal change, it is less about stories about politics or society and more about stories about people with an individual mind. These are stories about trying to live with yourself and accept yourself, and every story has that in it.

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