Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors shed light on their recently released books by comparing them to weird things. This week Ethel Rohan writes about her new story collection, In the Event of Contact, out this month from Dzanc Books.
If my book were not a book it would be 14 pink-red roses, a bouquet of thirst. 14 thudding, trembling white horses, a herd of hope. 14 purple-black crows flying backwards, a marvelous murder.
The push of my chest through the Finish Line’s red satin ribbon.
The space between the words, the branches, the stars.
Fix in case of emergency.
Don’t look away.
Black chalk on whiteboard.
Ocean foam ebbing from the backs of my eyes.
14 spot fires. Fires that lick, catch, fan, dance, and blaze. Blaze that watercolors the sky, and below removes, clears. Blue, yellow, orange, purple, peach, red, gold flames like flickering spirits. Spirits that leap high, higher, highest and red the sun. Plumes of smoke that black the fractured moon.
Explosion of the need to escape, and to save. Save the stories of the brave, determined, stubborn, helpers, assholes, heinous, victims, and survivors. Survivors through the rain of ripped ash, press of orange daylight, human sounds like the sirens, like the barking dogs, and falling fire that streaks and glows.
Fire loves baked, cracked earth, great churning gusts, and science deniers. Fire comes for all; says no to nothing, no one. Fire’s path must be broken to be stopped. Stopped, and then fields of fire poppies that seed in destruction’s wake, blooming golden and lighting up the phantom, swaying spaces.
If my book. book my If.
Ethel Rohan is an award winning essayist, novelist, and short story writer. Her latest book In the Event of Contact won the Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Prize (May, 2021). The fourteen stories center on crises of contact, various forms of injury, and surprising bids for recovery and the remains of wonder. Rohan has published widely, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Irish Times, PEN America, Tin House, and Guernica. Her virtual address is here. She sometimes climbs over its invisible walls and peeps into here, here, and there.