Dissecting Desperation

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Here’s what we know about Ethel Rohan. She’s from Ireland. She lives in San Francisco. She is one of the million-plus people on Facebook who like "Intelligent, classy, well-educated women who say ‘Fuck’ a lot.” She writes short stories containing “phantom limbs and phantom lives,” so says author Victor LaValle, that expose human loss and ache. Thirty of these have been gathered into a book called Cut Through the Bone, which she reads from and discusses tonight. Her stories specialize in moments like this one from “Reduced,” when a wife and husband dine together in a downtown restaurant, she overdoing it with the wine, he radiating disapproval: “We tried to struggle and scream, to reach out for each other, but we were frozen, voiceless. Then, then we shrank, slow, slow, and dissipated to puddles on our chairs, his clear and mine red.” Perhaps anticipating more puddles at the reading, Rohan has seen to it that the free refreshments include Irish whiskey.
Thu., Dec. 9, 7 p.m., 2010

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