In the Event of Contact: Entertaining and original tales of hope within broken lives

Ethel Rohan

Niamh Donnelly

Realism is the order of the day in Ethel Rohan’s charming collection of short stories In the Event of Contact. We’re in “a fine home in a prime San Francisco neighbourhood minutes from the ocean”. We’re on the dual carriageway, selling Wexford strawberries. We’re in a London pub, amid “the press of people and too-loud music” (try not to feel too jealous of those characters). These stories land solidly in time and space, and never dance a trapeze act to get our attention. Reality is not something that needs to be impressed upon us, so it’s not. The opening paragraphs do their hard work and get out of the way. Seemingly inconspicuous descriptions, like “rain rattled the windows, as if trying to get in” deliver, with laid-back ease. Close points of view, “my tongue works a raspberry seed from my top molar and I ready the words to finish with him”, bring us into the head — the mouth — of our narrators.