Picks and Pans Main: Books

updated 04/25/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/25/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Touch

by Alexi Zentner |

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REVIEWED BY ANDREW ABRAHAMS

FICTION

In his breathtaking debut, Zentner creates a magical world filled with ghosts and demons who lurk in the Canadian north woods. Stephen is an Anglican priest who has come home to the hard logging town of Sawgamet to say goodbye to his dying mother and deliver her eulogy. Old tragedies are relived, and the prodigal son makes his peace, finding comfort in the idea that, as Zentner puts it in his haunting prose, "memories are another way to raise the dead."

Swim Back To Me

by Ann Packer |

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REVIEWED BY KIM HUBBARD

STORIES

"Which is worse," an embittered academic asks the ex-wife who left him, "guilt or humiliation?" There's plenty of both in these astute stories by the author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier. A shy teen falls for a girl who shuns him for the local drug dealer. A mom moves out to help those less fortunate, leaving her husband and son adrift. Which is worse? Anyone intrigued by the ways we both fail and save one another will find ample food for thought here.

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