In the Event of Contact: Stories, by Ethel Rohan

katrinelinden's review

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I really wanted to love this book, but ultimately didn't. A few of the stories captivated me, a few left me wanting more from them, and some were difficult to even finish. Rohan's style of writing is amazing, though I expected more from the stories themselves - but I have definitely not given up on her just yet.

jillianwilliams05's review

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Unreasonably crass. Boring, the common thread was weak. I enjoyed the first story, but that was about it.

ruesparks's review

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(Trigger Warnings at bottom of review hidden behind spoiler tags, FYI!)

This contemporary short story collection traverses the complexities of human contact (both the existence and absence) through the lens of Irish and American characters, each story a unique stone that builds a foundation of complex experiences that are both familiar and idiosyncratic.

Rohan tackles some tough subjects in this anthology. Despite this, I do think Rohan handles the trauma by carefully extruding the emotion at the core, not glorifying the drama and tiptoeing away from being crass or cruel in its expression. Except for when it’s triggering or when we’re not mentally in a healthy space to approach it (see trigger warnings at bottom of review), these are subjects and themes that we can’t ignore; they’re part of all our lives or the lives of those around us. It’s a tough read in places, but I think there’s value in books like this because it forces us to look in the mirror to the parts of us we don’t like to see.

As a writer, I admire authors that can wield techniques in fiction that I’m not as fluent in achieving myself. The subtlety and nuance that Rohan creates in her stories, saying so much with so deft a palette, is beyond my capabilities. It’s like watching an impressionist artist at work; each colorful, bold stroke of paint on its own a beautiful but innocuous mark, but together an organic, flowing portrait that creates a whole that is both raw and unmistakable. She takes a story with so much emotion and texture, and turns it at just the right angle to leave us guessing except for the moments where the jigsaw pieces fit just right, and we’re hit with the enormity of it.

Trigger Warnings:
SpoilerAbortion, Homophobia (brief mention), Death, Graphic Violence, Domestic Violence, Sex, Hallucinations

justineveras's review

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I want so desperately to see what others love about this collection but I could not get into it. 4 stories in and I only liked one of them.

readingwithgwen's review

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This collection of short stories is a brilliantly original and beautiful read. The book focuses around the theme of those extremely affected by physical connections, or it’s lack. Each story is very unique and left me to ponder my own likeness to each character.

The stories, although unique, still form the collection seamlessly. Rohan captured the complexity of each character very well. Their flaws, insecurities, and beliefs were all integrated in a way that made every character feel physically and psychologically distinctive.

I have never read a book that has a style quite like Rohan. It is so fresh. I found myself sucked into each character’s life and feeling both devastated and hopeful for each one.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys deep and meaningful short stories.