cover image In the Event of Contact: Stories

In the Event of Contact: Stories

Ethel Rohan. Dzanc, $16.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-950539-26-0

Rohan (The Weight of Him) delivers a striking collection about loners. In the title story, Ruth copes with an extreme aversion to touch, which began in kindergarten after a boy’s constant touching caused her to have a seizure. As a teen, Ruth is taught at home by a private tutor, a man whose inappropriate methods to cure Ruth shocks her two triplet sisters. In “Everywhere She Went,” a 26-year-old narrator is reminded of her friend Hazel, who went missing when they were children, after her boyfriend mentions a co-worker with the same name. The narrator is haunted all over again by foggy memories of her friend, and reflects on how the disappearance has made it difficult for her to bond with others ever since. In “Rare, but Not Impossible,” Margo returns home to Dublin from New York City for a friend’s wedding, disappointed to find her parents didn’t make the trek to the airport for her. While describing Margo’s cab ride, Rohan writes, “No matter where she was, she never sounded like she belonged.” Margo’s role in the wedding makes her feel more isolated and alienated. Rohan makes the most of situations in which her protagonists grapple with what it feels like to be different and unable to be close with others. This is worth a look. (May)