Beautifully written, hauntingly told, Touch is a New Face of Fiction novel that in its storytelling and recounting of a multi-generational family story brings to mind Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude – and in its evocation of the mythic wilderness, Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road.
Touch will be available wherever books and eBooks are sold on April 12, 2011, but we’ve got a sneak peek for you:
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. My father, the foreman, stood at the top of the chute hollering at the men and shaking his mangled hand, urging them on. “That’s money in the water, boys,” he yelled, “push on, push on.” I was ten that summer, and I remember him as a giant.
Despite his bad hand, my father could still man one end of a long saw. He kept his end humming through the wood as quickly as most men with two hands. But a logger with a useless hand could not pole on the river. When the men floated the trees my father watched from the middle of the jam, where the trees were smashed safely together, staying away from the bobbing, breaking destruction of wood and weight at the edges. The float took days to reach Havershand, he said. There was little sleep and constant wariness. Watch your feet, boys. The spinning logs can crush you. The cold-water deeps beneath the logs always beckoned. Men pitched tents at the center of the jam, where logs were pushed so tightly together that they made solid ground, terra firma, a place to sleep for a few hours, eat hard biscuits, and drink a cup of tea. Once they reached Havershand, the logs continued on by train without my father: either south for railway ties or two thousand miles east to Toronto, and then on freighters to Boston or New York, where the towering trees became beams and braces in strangers’ cities.
I remember my father as a giant, even though my mother reminded me that he was not so tall that he had to duck his head to cross the threshold of our house, the small foreman’s cottage with the covered porch that stood behind the mill. I know from the stories my father told me when I was a child that he imagined his own father—my grandfather, Jeannot— the same way, as a giant. He never met my grandfather, so he had to rely on the stories he heard from my great-aunt Rebecca and great-uncle Franklin—who raised him as their own after Jeannot left Sawgamet—and from the other men and women who had known my grandfather. My father retold these same stories to me.