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Cut Through the Bone

4.33  ·  Rating Details  ·  115 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
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.
Paperback, 115 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by Dark Sky Books
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(showing 1-30 of 398)
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Mel Bosworth
Nov 08, 2010 Mel Bosworth rated it it was amazing
**ARC (Advance Reading Copy) review by Mel Bosworth

An entire chocolate cake. A gallon of espresso. A liter of Jameson. For the average person, it’s probably not wise to consume any of these things in one sitting, regardless of how tempting it might be. Ethel Rohan’s debut collection Cut Through The Bone should be read with that same restraint, because overindulging yourself on the words therein will have you rolling around on the floor, your bed, they’ll have you pacing the halls, holding your h
Mar 17, 2013 Tara rated it it was amazing
This became a very dog-eared copy. Normally I hate to do that to my books, but I just had to mark the many wonderful, original lines and passages I came across, such as:

"She checks the clock again and feels the heartbeat in her throat."

"I liked to hold the babies that didn't have visitors, to breathe in their freshness and sing them to smiles."

"My husband gestured at my wine-colored lips. I pictured the bloody hues there, trapped in the crevices."

And there are plenty more. What Rohan does best I
Another goodreads author I discovered thanks to goodreads' first reads program. I was so excited about this giveaway and I'm happy to say it lived up to all my expectations. The book may be short but these stories can cut deep. Stories of loneliness, addiction, grief, fear, regret, acceptance, love, anger, delusion, and loss are rendered beautifully here.

My favorites (in order of appearance)?

Make Over
On the Loose
Under the Scalpel
Found and Lost
Next to the Gutter
Cut Through the Bone

*I find it
Jan 13, 2011 Steve rated it really liked it
Shelves: stories
First things first, a couple of these stories were published in the webjournal I edit, so I read Cut Through The Bone already a fan; weigh that relationship as you will.

These tend to be short, sharp shocks of story, and even those occurring over several days are compact and quick. Their characters are often trying to regain control against forces outside their influence, whether that's illness or economics or aging or the kind of ennui that sets like frostbite. My favorites are those in which ch
May 24, 2011 Maria rated it liked it
This book is a collection of extremely short stories. I tend to feel dissatisfied reading short stories, so I didn't expect to enjoy this book. However I quickly realized that they were not so much stories with a plot, but rather glimpses into a moment in someone's life. And in reading this book, I generally felt satisfied with just a glimpse.

The stories are written with so few words that none are wasted. The characters aren't described in much detail, except for the details that are relevant. B
Sep 20, 2011 Emprise marked it as books-by-our-journal-contributors
Shelves: emprise-reviewed
In Act I of Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman is growing increasingly upset at his lack of accomplishment. At sixty years old, he is working on commission, he can’t manage to pay his bills without borrowing money from his neighbor, and his son Biff is working odd jobs on ranches out West, directionless. Willy bemoans the current state of life to his wife, Linda. He has been working his entire life and it has all added up to nothing. Even when they finally pay off their house, there will be nobody ...more
Edward Rathke
Aug 10, 2011 Edward Rathke rated it really liked it
This is a rather impressive, albeit short, collection of shorts. It's powerful, emotional, full of longing, of suffering, of people not willing to give up or give in, of people who already have, of those just barely holding on. And yet, somehow she mixes in these magical stories as light brushes, slight touches, to alleviate some of the heaviness. She tosses the reader breaks from the bleeding of their hearts with flights of fancy and some real moments of humor. It's not necessarily an eclectic ...more
Richard Thomas
Feb 09, 2011 Richard Thomas rated it it was amazing
This review was originally published at The Nervous Breakdown:

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 bl
Each of the stories in this collection is bright and sharp, honed and polished like a diamond. They are filled with telling details and unexpected shards of pain. I have my favorites ("Babies on the Shore") and those I really would not have minded missing ("On the Loose" and "Under the Scalpel"); but those emotional reactions are based not on an objective assessment but rather on which set of images appealed to me in the moment. I'm sure the ones I disliked are the favorites of other readers, an ...more
Apr 30, 2011 Jacque rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Jacque by: GoodReads
This is a book of short stories. All of the stories were interesting. They could be true stories. They are well written and a quick read. Of the thirty stories in the book I found four to be very interesting. These stories touched me more than the others. All the stories were good but these four were my very favorites. My favorites are: Lifelike; Gone; Under the Scalpel; and Vitals.
Lifelike was just a very interesting story. Now that I have seen some of those dolls that really do look like babie
Samuel Snoek-Brown
Feb 10, 2012 Samuel Snoek-Brown rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommendations
I was THIS close to giving this five stars, and I'm not even really withholding that fifth star -- I'm just keeping one in reserve. Overall, this book is brilliant, an absolute tour de force of tiny fiction, an onslaught of stories so tight, so dense, that they bruise you when they hit you.

Well, most of them. There are, I have to say, a handful (just a handful, out of thirty) that feel a bit, well, not quite unfinished but perhaps undeveloped. I hate to sound like a graduate workshop here, but t
Mar 20, 2011 Andrew rated it really liked it
I slapped at his arms, his chest. He jumped away from me. We stared at each other, stunned, breathless. I felt I had holes in my head and face from the crush of his fingers. He dropped to his knees and cradled me tightly in his lap, hid his face in my shoulder. Inside the glass, my mother flailed, a tree in a storm, trying to get to us.


Like a knife turned on its side, shaving away tissue-thin portions of skin one after another until seeing red, the thirty tales in Ethel Rohan’s debut short st
Jul 22, 2011 Matt rated it liked it
I was pretty excited to come across this collection of thirty five short fiction pieces, because sometimes I think that's what my book would look like, and I was curious to see how Rohan met the challenge of not repeating herself. I think, in the end, I was expecting too much, because while it's true there's not a lot of repetition here in terms of characters or situations, all the stories cover roughly the same narrative terrain-- mostly realistic, traditional and domestic scenes here, often ce ...more
Apr 26, 2011 Kristin rated it it was amazing
I received my copy of "Cut through the Bone" in the Goodreads First Reads contest.

The book was a very short read, but extremely profound.

Ms. Rohan’s work is simply amazing, the stories are short (2-4 pages) and yet she manages to pack so much power and emotion in each story…once I started I couldn’t put the book down, I couldn’t wait to see what the next story was going to be about and what I’ll get to feel next.

The characters in this very short book were so human, it was shocking. Every charac
Marlene Marie
Feb 06, 2015 Marlene Marie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone who likes/loves to read.
Recommended to Marlene by: a giveaway event.
Shelves: books-i-own
this is one of those books that i seldom have the pleasure of reading, because so few of them exist in present times. i read it in a night, i told myself "one story" but the book never left my hand, the words never left my sight, because i just couldn't put it down till there were no more pages to turn. this, to me, was a book so amazing that it captivates you and leaves you haunted by it's words. words so strong that you can't forget them, and the way they touch your heart, your soul. the colle ...more
May 21, 2011 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Rohan's short stories are incredibly descriptive and full of intense emotion. She is able to create realistic, intriguing characters with so few words. The stories in this collection resonated with me deeply. She paints each emotional picture with rich detail. Relating to the characters' experiences, sadness, loss, or loneliness left a powerful impact on my reading experience. The depth of the emotions she portrays almost forced me to into similar personal experiences. In addition to strong char ...more
Erin Sadler
Jun 19, 2011 Erin Sadler rated it really liked it
Cut Through the Bone by Ethel Rohan was quite an enjoyable read. A series of short stories regarding the acceptance of loss, the author simply yet poignantly portrays the series of emotions involved.
I sat down and read the entire book cover to cover in a bit over an hour so it isn't the type of book suitable for all night reads but still very enjoyable. Each story is no more then 3-4 pages long yet still ushers the reader into each of its unique zones if you will. Within the first page of each s
Oct 04, 2011 Briana rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Fans of short stories.
Recommended to Briana by: Goodreads Giveaways
I was very disappointed. =( I had high expectations for this book. I was hoping for deeper, heart wrenching stories. Most of them are semi-sad, filled with characters that are experiencing some type of loss. Others are bizarre and confusing. My favorite story was the first story about a widow who tells stories to a balloon.

Woot!!!!!!! I just won this book on Goodreads Giveaways! I can't wait to read it! Thank you for the opportunity to win great books!! <3
Jun 21, 2011 Robyn rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the short stories in this book. After reading some of them, I thought, "hm, that was good." But after reading several of them, they left me wanting MORE!! I loved the way the author really created meaningful characters that I could relate to in their sorrows and joys. Seriously though, I want to read an all-out novel from this author. She just had such a beautiful way of painting a clear and colorful picture in each story :) Wonderful writing!
Jun 10, 2011 Nevertaken rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a First Reads giveaway.

I'm only about 1/3 of the way through this book so far, but I'm definitely enjoying these short stories a lot. I could have easily read it in a day, but I want to spread the stories out , so I'm just reading 2 every couple of days. There are only a couple so far that I didn't really enjoy very much.

I will update this review later on, when I have an opinion of the book as a whole.
Mar 10, 2011 Dawn rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, fiction, stories
Cut Through the Bone is full of crisp, simple sentences and deceptively "normal" people waterlogged by loss, in its many forms. This book left me aching (in a good way). My favorite stories in CTTB (meaning most memorable) are More Than Gone, On the Loose, Under the Scalpel, Scraps, The Trip, Fish, Crazy, and Cut Through the Bone. Now I can't wait to read Ethel Rohan's forthcoming collection Hard to Say.
Kevin Murphy
Feb 28, 2011 Kevin Murphy rated it it was amazing
Long-listed for the 2011 Story Prize

"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."
Aug 05, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing
Ethel Rohan's mastery of flash fiction made me laugh, brought me to tears, and like the bookend stories of this collection, made me feel things I forgot or didn't know were there. Rohan can conjure, like a Celtic witch, any trick she likes and I can't wait to read her follow up, Goodnight Nobody.
Jul 28, 2011 David rated it it was amazing
I'm not usually one for really short fiction, but I loved the stories in this collection. They just don't seem short. Even at a page or so, they seem like fully developed stories. The writing is just masterful. Very evocative and engaging. I can't wait to read more.
Heather Fowler
Oct 19, 2011 Heather Fowler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: people-i-know
Cut Through the Bone is an excellent collection of shorts. Rohan has great skill with dense modern prose, a cunning way with dialogue, and an enjoyable sense of humor. I read the whole book in one sitting. Each piece has its own charm. I do recommend.
Jul 02, 2012 Kayo rated it it was amazing
A human collection of short stories. I really liked her style, and her precision in describing all spectrum of human emotions. I read this book while travelling- feel I will have to go back and revisit some of the stories with a pen and paper.
Jul 25, 2011 Fleming rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This is by far the best book I've won on FirstReads thus far. The stories were exceedingly short - sometimes frustratingly so. The stories were to the point and devastating - I couldn't rip through the pages fast enough.
Jun 05, 2011 Lulu marked it as to-read
I won this book from the first reads giveaways and I am so excited to read it. Thanks.
Kris V. Bernard
Finished reading this in Mexico in the light of the sunset.
This kind of writing cannot be ignored. Don't know a night walk without thoughts of these haunting stories (favorite one being, "Fish) walking alongside every step.
Ethel Rohan
May 23, 2011 Ethel Rohan rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
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Outside Writers Collective Revi
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