Cut Through the Bone

Ethel Rohan’s collection of short-shorts, Cut Through the Bone offers a haunting vision of life in contemporary society. The collection opens with a slice-of-life vignette in which a widow turns a helium balloon into a substitute for her deceased husband, knowing all the while that the relationship will not only be largely one-sided but also painfully brief. The combination of longing, loneliness, and curiously off-kilter melancholy of this opening piece sets the tone for the remainder of the collection. Throughout the proceedings, we meet a host of broken yet ultimately (even incongruously) hopeful characters: the little girl who dresses in the clothes of her disappeared mother, the couple who meets for a drink as they dissolve their partnership, the cashier with an interminable case of the dropsies. In many ways, the book is about loneliness, yet at the same time, it’s also about the yearning for companionship that makes us human — our natural tendency to call out to the ghosts of friends and lovers, lives and limbs gone by. Indeed, each vignette in Cut Through the Bone reads like a finely-wrought piece of filigree yet carries the emotional weight of a work etched in stone.

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