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Hard To Say (2011)

by Ethel Rohan(Favorite Author)
4.45 of 5 Votes: 4
review 1: To quote Ethel Rohan's own work, reading these stories is like being pulled "through a black hole." The words are haunting and beautiful and take the reader well past the familiar into places even more haunting and beautiful. Never have birth, life, or death been so terrifically or tragically rendered on paper. Although it might be hard for the narrator to speak, the words seem to flow out with brilliant ease. These stories aren't hard to read, but they sure grab and choke the reader, leaving him or her speechless. That is until the reader finds the voice to praise these stories. Highlights include "Corruptionists" and "Mammy," but every piece in here is essential reading.
review 2: I do believe that Hard to Say, a painfully beautiful linked collection of stori
... morees by Ethel Rohan, will leave you as speechless as it did me. The book begins with a young woman whose own desire not to speak her family’s many secrets chokes her. It is not until she envisions herself speaking, through a dream of bloodletting, that her stories are set free.Long kept hidden away in the narrator’s secret spaces, the stories burst onto the page with confessions of wrong doing–both that which is done to the narrator and that which she does out of necessity and survival and desire. Indeed, the book reminded me of the first time I went to confession. I remember being disappointed because the priest was not in a booth as I had anticipated. Instead, we sat in a small room together, nearly facing each other. I could not possibly tell him all of my sins face-to-face. Instead, I told him those I thought he could most easily swallow. Had I been able to speak freely in a dark booth, away from his eyes, I might have told the truth as the narrator does in these stories.While all of the stories moved me, the one that broke me was the final story, “Mammy,” which is peeled back to the first word and possibly the final word any human being thinks or says and that is a name for mother: Mammy, Maw, Ma, Mummy, Mommy, Mama, etc. The narrator, leaving her ailing mother in Dublin as she flies back to the US, watches a documentary about girls’ circumcision in a Ugandan village. She is on the plane and her thoughts are, obviously, with her mother, as are mine while I read it. I have been on that plane, flying back and forth to and from my sick mother, wishing for relief from the anguish of it all. And then the final lines which pierced me deep in my heart and continue to:"Then, on the plane, from the TV, those girls’ cries from that hut in Uganda, calling their mothers, Mammy, Mammy, Mammy. Cries that stabbed me, that should have cracked the earth."It’s a gorgeous book. Read it. less
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This chapbook punched me in the heart about twice for every page of it I read.
Ethel Rohan will break your heart and you will fucking love it.
received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads
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