Cut Through The Bone

Cut Through The Bone

5.0 3
by Ethel Rohan

Fiction. In this stripped-raw debut collection, Ethel Rohan's thirty stories swell with broken, incomplete people yearning to be whole. Through tight language and searing scenarios, Rohan brings to life a plethora of characters—exposed, vulnerable souls who are achingly human.


Fiction. In this stripped-raw debut collection, Ethel Rohan's thirty stories swell with broken, incomplete people yearning to be whole. Through tight language and searing scenarios, Rohan brings to life a plethora of characters—exposed, vulnerable souls who are achingly human.

Product Details

Dark Sky Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
0.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 5.00(d)

What People are saying about this

Victor LaValle
Cut Through the Bone is full of phantom limbs and phantom lives. 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. In one story a woman pleads, �I�m here though? Tell me I�m here.� Ethel Rohan�s stories are like testaments to all the women and men who�ve asked the same thing of the world. Those folks remain unseen to most, but this truly talented artist isn�t blind. Ethel Rohan is one hell of a writer.� --(Victor LaValle, author of Big Machine)

Meet the Author

Raised in Ireland, Ethel Rohan now lives in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in Guernica, Potomac Review, and Los Angeles Review among many others. CUT THROUGH THE BONE was longlisted as a notable collection by the 2010 Story Prize.

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Cut Through the Bone 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Author_RichardThomas More than 1 year ago
This review was originally published at The Nervous Breakdown website (the nervous breakdown dot com): In this slim volume of very short stories, Cut Through The Bone (Dark Sky Books) Ethel Rohan presents a series of confrontations, putting us in the middle of those awkward little moments: when your mother stands in the living room her face scarred and disfigured, eyeballs floating in their sockets, rimmed with blood; when the divorce papers are dropped on the table, your husband's fingernails black with dirt, yellow raincoat wrapped tight around his frame; that moment of violence when you lash out at your only child, your wife gone, this the only flesh left to scream at, to hold, to hug and understand. This is not one long discourse, one epic tale that unfurls your heart, deboning you, leaving you dismembered. No, this is death by a thousand cuts, tiny slices that you hardly notice, here and there a thin ribbon of blood, a bite, a nip, hardly a sting at all, until suddenly this community of intruders has riddled your skin with wounds, a pool of blood gathered at your ankles, death revealed in your pale, translucent skin. The first story in the collection sets the tone. In "More Than Gone" we get the story of a widow carrying home a purple balloon, remembering her husband, who has died: "Home, she kicks off her shoes and ties the balloon to the kitchen table. She pulls off her sweater and drapes it across Albert's armchair, the chair such a comfort, such company, in the room. Her children want her to get rid of it. Never. She'd fall into the space it would leave behind." Not only do we get a sense of the focus and tone that Rohan brings to her work, but we also get a hint at the magic, the surreal touches that she sprinkles throughout this collection. We are left with the touching sentiment of an old woman refusing to get rid of an armchair, this comfort and presence, but also the image of her falling into the space left by this potential absence, literally, and figuratively. It's the first haunting image of many to come. In "Under the Scalpel" Rohan shows how a daughter and son-in-law deal with a recently divorced mother, her husband recently come out of the closet, off with his new boyfriend, leaving her no choice but to find a way to show that she isn't inept, isn't the only one that can move onward and upward. Her plastic surgery is a decision that turns out to be pure horror. But layered into this story that could easily have been a simple exercise in disfigurement and drama, staring at the strange, the damaged, instead turns into a story about the love and connection of a daughter, the honesty lying there amidst the range of emotions, the need to help and support, while also taking on the weight of this new development: "I led her back to the stairs. My lies echoed in the hall, came back to us. She felt so tiny inside my arm, fragile and childlike, and yet the burden of her slithered up my spine, tightened around my throat." That's the reality of it all. This is a huge inconvenience, disrupting her life. There is no way that this loving daughter can ignore her mother, at the same time filling up with sorrow and pain. (continued at the nervous breakdown dot com)
forereach More than 1 year ago
After reading Rohan's "Cut Through the Bone," I had to make room in my heart for a few of the characters who moved right in! Rohan may write about loss and longing, but she balances her tales with human beings, young and old, who have great determination and who take amazing leaps of faith. The beautiful battle-scarred woman in "Gone," and the handed-one-note-too-many little boy in "Next to the Gutter" are just two of my favorites. In no time, you, too, will find yourself embracing Rohan's quirky, yet endearing cast of characters.
MBosworth More than 1 year ago
The stories in this collection-many only a few pages long-are extremely potent. Pungent. Deceptively rich. Like stepping into a puddle and being swallowed whole. Whoops. There goes your umbrella. Rohan writes about loss, about being trapped, about desperation, delusion. And she does so with a hand so steady you might think she's a doctor slicing open a patient with a scalpel. And you'd be right, at least in part, because that's precisely what she's doing. Only you're not simply observing. You're the patient.