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Ethel Rohan

Raised in Ireland, Ethel Rohan now lives San Francisco. Her work has appeared in Guernica, Potomac Review, and Los Angeles Review among many others. Cut Through the Bone was Long Listed as a notable collection by the 2010 Story Prize.


“Rohan’s stories are, more than anything else, about loss . . . and about the odd, endearing, and desperate ways that people fill the void or ignore it.”


“These stories create a sense of loss in the reader, an ache, but thankfully they avoid dull cynicism. Instead, they bear witness to the difficulty of living for oneself while sacrificing for others."

– Victor LaValle, author of Big Machine

“In this unforgettable collection, Rohan reveals her mastery in finding the danger of ordinary objects, the way they come alive when her characters hold them in their hands.”

– Kevin Wilson, author of Tunneling to the Center of the Earth

"This is a marvelous collection, filled with moments that startle and shatter."

– Laura van den Berg, author of What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us

" . . . beautiful and inventive, tender and absurd, quirky and heartbreaking, dark and strange and devastating."

– Michael Kimball, author of Dear Everybody,

"Ethel Rohan’s women, despite their wounds, are strong of spirit."

– William Walsh, author of Pathologies

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Cut Through the Bone

Ethel Rohan On Reading


“I read, and the tiny diamonds in my wedding band are thrown back on the page; one, two . . . eight tiny stones, tiny refractions of light. I move my hand so and the brilliant reflections vanish. Move my hand again and there they are back. There, gone. There, gone. Safely in and out.

“As a girl, I didn’t own jewelry, didn’t have anything but the words coming off the page, and me right there inside the story. Safely in and out. My mother called and called, chores and mending to be done, but she couldn’t get me out of the page, out of the words, out of the story. She raised the head of the sweeping brush and brought it down on my book, my lap, and first one knee, then the second knee. Her face the most terrible cover.

“Something died that day. Something I’ve yet to name. Not my love for books, for sweeping floors, for my mother. All that lives on. Invincible.”

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  1. Ethel Rohan said on 10/28/11 at 5:08 pm Reply

    Thanks so much for republishing this here, and again to Shome.

    At LDM in San Francisco during Litquake, I represented The Lit Pub and was honored and delighted to do so. 250+ people were in attendance. I hope at least some of them felt spurred to find out more about the fabulous Lit Pub.



  2. Jordan Blum said on 11/01/11 at 10:15 am Reply

    Very eloquent and precise, Ethel. I used to have the same sense of immersion in literature (and I probably still would if I weren’t trained to be so critical of it), and I used to feel angry when I was interrupted (although no one ever hit me with a broom, ha-ha).


  3. ydde said on 11/01/11 at 12:16 pm Reply

    Love this. Great stuff.

    Man, I still get hopelessly lost, not only in words, but in music, in films, in cartoons, in legos, in cooking, but especially the first three, but maybe, still, mostly the fourth one. I hate stopping midchapter or anything like that. Like, it bothers me a lot and I get mad. Mad that I have to exist out here again with all the meat humans when I want to sit down with all the word humans for just one more hour.


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