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Touch (2011)

by Alexi Zentner

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2733684,869 (3.84)54
In Sawgamet, a north woods boomtown gone bust, the cold of winter breaks the glass of the schoolhouse thermometer, and the dangers of working in the cuts are overshadowed by the mysteries and magic lurking in the woods. Stephen, a pastor, is at home on the eve of his mother's funeral, thirty years after the mythic summer his grandfather returned to the town in search of his beloved but long-dead wife. And like his grandfather, Stephen is forced to confront the losses of his past.… (more)
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English (34)  Danish (2)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Stephen is a priest who has come back to Sawgamet, the small town in B.C. that he grew up in, to take care of his dying mother. While there, memories of his childhood come back to him, as well as stories that his grandfather told about the founding of the town and how he came to be in Sawgamet and his life there.

I found it a little bit confusing at times, as we shifted back and forth in three different time periods – Stephen’s “current” time frame, the time period from when he was a child, and the time frame from when his grandfather arrived, founded the town, married, and a particularly harsh winter his grandparents went through when the town was literally buried in snow. It wasn’t always obvious which time period we were suddenly in. I found the grandfather’s story the most interesting (and luckily, that was the majority of the story), but overall, I would consider the book “o.k.”. I have to say that the descriptions of the harsh winters were very vivid. ( )
  LibraryCin | May 8, 2021 |
I won this advance copy through Goodreads.com ( )
  Eternal.Optimist | Aug 22, 2018 |
Soooo good! Reminds me of Three Day Road and the first third of John Irvings latest....cannot believe this is a first novel! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
I won this book in a giveaway. A well written story that almost felt like it was being told over a campfire. Is it true is it not... kept me guessing and occasionally looking over my shoulder. Good read! ( )
  LiteraryChanteuse | Jan 27, 2016 |
Zentner presents a fascinating, historical story of hardship, endurance and superstition set in the British Columbia/Yukon interior around the late 19th century. The characters are well-defined, the environmental descriptions vivid, the plot intriguing.

Memorable, readable, recommended. ( )
  fiverivers | Sep 10, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Alexi Zentner's debut novel is poised to be one of those books that gets people talking. A version of the opening chapter was featured in the 2008 edition of The O. Henry Prize Stories and received a special mention in the 2008 Pushcart Prize anthology. Add to this the number of territories it has already sold in - including the U.S., the U.K., Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Israel, and Korea - and you get the feeling this book might have real legs....Indeed, Touch is a remarkable book. Its setting and characters are infused with magic.......Amid the magic is horror: murder and other violent deaths, cannibalism, and monsters who lure victims into the icy river to drown. The story is slippery and complex, but told with seemingly effortless ease. Touch is indeed a gem of a book.
 
Stephen’s recasting of family lore is compelling: there isn’t a weak sentence in the book. Like all great writers, Zentner has created a believable and evocative world. The only minor quibble is the title.
 
“Touch” is a lovely debut, at once dreamy and riveting, like a heavy snowfall watched from a vantage point safe indoors, beside a blazing fire.
 
This is fantasy for grown-ups some may find frustrating. More favourably, Touch might be seen as dealing with how we understand our life stories and, when the time comes, how we translate these for our own children. What we remember, misremember and mythologise. How nature tends towards the symbolic. As Zentner’s narrator tells us: “There is something about clear nights in the winter, the perfection of snow and ice in the light from the stars and the moon that always reminds me of the existence of God.”
 
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For my wife, Laurie,
the reason why that everything I write is really about love,
and for my daughters, Zoey and Sabine
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The men floated the logs early, in September, a chain of headless trees jamming the river as far as I and the other children could see.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

In Sawgamet, a north woods boomtown gone bust, the cold of winter breaks the glass of the schoolhouse thermometer, and the dangers of working in the cuts are overshadowed by the mysteries and magic lurking in the woods. Stephen, a pastor, is at home on the eve of his mother's funeral, thirty years after the mythic summer his grandfather returned to the town in search of his beloved but long-dead wife. And like his grandfather, Stephen is forced to confront the losses of his past.

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In Sawgamet, a north woods boomtown gone bust, the cold of winter breaks the glass of the schoolhouse thermometer, and the dangers of working in the cuts are overshadowed by the mysteries and magic lurking in the woods. Stephen, a pastor, is at home on the eve of his mother's funeral, thirty years after the mythic summer his grandfather returned to the town in search of his beloved but long-dead wife. And like his grandfather, Stephen is forced to confront the losses of his past.

Touch introduces you to a world where monsters and witches oppose singing dogs and golden caribou, where the living and the dead part and meet again in the crippling beauty of winter and the surreal haze of summer.
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