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3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,512 ratings  ·  312 reviews
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 hi ...more
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published April 4th 2011 by W. W. Norton Company
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Stacey Murphy Mild sexual content, I'd say. There are definitely descriptions of passionate feelings between people, but not graphic. …moreMild sexual content, I'd say. There are definitely descriptions of passionate feelings between people, but not graphic. (less)

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Average rating 3.67  · 
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 ·  1,512 ratings  ·  312 reviews

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Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good book.

Alexi Zentner’s 2012 short novel about four generations of a family in western Canada in the late 1800s reminded me of a northern One Hundred Years of Solitude. While it does not have the scope or breadth of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ masterpiece, Zentner’s inspired prose was a great pleasure to read.

Most striking is Zentner’s use of magic realism with the raw edges of paranormal fantasy as he introduces elements of Inuit myth and legend into his frontier tale. With language, setti
It's funny, I usually start out my reviews with a short little blurb of my own just rehashing the particulars of the story. With 'Touch' though, this story was so all over the place that I can't adequately explain it's basis; it simply eludes me. The official summary feels deceiving and makes it sound ripe with potential... but it never lived up it, that's for sure. I truly feel as if I've been hoodwinked. I blame the stunning cover! *shakes fist* But honestly, I recall going through this magica ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Plucked this slim novel on a whim from the new books table at the library; knew absolutely nothing about book or author. A happy happenstance--it is one of the most memorable books I've read in a while.

Alexi Zentner eases you into the narrative, enchants with superb story-telling, and introduces the magical elements slowly and subtly as the plot progresses. A plain-spoken and earnest narrator makes it easy for to suspend disbelief and get lost in the vivid and mesmirizing landscape, characters,
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, debut
Touch, by Alexi Zentner is the kind of novel I want to discuss with a friend. Though I loved the lyrical style and mythical realism (author's definition) of this story set in the harsh wilderness of northern British Columbia, I have come away with questions and may not truly understand what happened here. My plan is to go back and listen to the author interviews again and see what I can learn.

There are some books that I am better off reading in large chunks rather than the bits and pieces that l
Mark Rice
May 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Touch is the sort of novel that Salman Rushdie might have produced if he'd been raised in the Canadian wilderness rather than India and England. Alexi Zentner's descriptive writing is as evocative and passionate as Rushdie's. Both authors' stories are rooted in the real world but contain subtle fantasy elements that are not too far-fetched to be believable. Zentner's biggest strength as a writer is his ability to describe scene, which in Touch is the forest around the Canadian town of Sawgamet. ...more
Lukas Anthony
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Multi-generational family drama mixed together with Inuit mythology, which was fascinating.

Google a qalupalik to be slightly creeped out.
Excellent protrayal of what it must have been like for the first of the European immigrants to move to the further reaches of Western Canada during the times of the several gold rushes. It's not about the populating of the land. It's not about the finding of gold. It's more about the relationship of three generations of a family with an extremely harsh, deadly environment and the spirits and creatures of an unknown land. It's a very original style of telling that I have a hard time classifying. ...more
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
A book about the stories, the places, and the people that make us. A book about love and loss and family. I’m so glad I finally picked this one up.
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, canada
Found in my mailbox on April 24/12 (B'day surprise from DJO). Started reading this morning. Got all nostalgic with memories of my father and the sight of him standing on the log booms he brought into our bay on the way to the sawmill - logs that would be made into lumber for the new home he built for us when I was 6.

April 28, 2012:

I finished this book yesterday, but part way through my reading, I had tweeted on Twitter that I was examining my fingertips for gold dust at every turn of the page. W
Feb 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, canadian
I won this book through the Goodreads giveaway and I absolutely adored it. I'm not going to lie; I consider a lot of Canadian fiction to be excessively drab and depressing, seemingly for the sake of it, but this was a breath of fresh air. Certainly, there are depressing parts to this story, but I never felt overwhelmed by them.

I particularly enjoyed the mystical aspect of the book. There are a lot of creatures from Native American/Canadian folklore scattered throughout the narrative, and I think
Sep 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Bravo! Thank you, Mr. Zentner, for a book that was deceptively gentle, thoughtfully written, heartbreaking and so descriptive that several times I felt the need to put a sweater on because of your vivid prose. You melded reality and the supernatural beautifully together, creating a piece of work that I will read again not only for the story but also on the sheer enjoyment of reading how you put words together.
Sian Lile-Pastore
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really love a snowy book, and there was snow in this book! Being buried under it, getting lost in it, snuggling in a cabin with it snowing outside.... Didn't realise this was historical, but it seems to cover gold rush up to about the 50s? (It's hard to tell) with lots of interlinking family stories. There is some magical realism mixed in which I didn't 100% get behind especially towards the end. But snow!! ...more
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 t
Mar 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Stephen Boucher returns with his wife and three children to his remote northern B.C. hometown of Sawgamet to replace his stepfather as the Anglican minister. As he spends time with his mother in her last days, he reminisces about his childhood 30 years earlier, including the deaths of his father and sister. Another significant event is the return of Jeannot, Stephen's paternal grandfather. The return of this larger-than-life character leads to the telling of his life in Sawgamet, which he founde ...more
May 11, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
With an interesting summary—and, okay, breathtaking cover that drew me in—I was eager to read Touch, but I’m sad to say I haven’t been able to finish it. It’s short (288 pages in paperback), and because of that, it needs to dive right into its plot, but it doesn’t—or maybe it’s more that it does, and the plot’s just not holding my attention.

The first chapter drags (too much telling, not enough showing), some sentences are strangely structured, and the dialogue is stilted. Later in the book, the
Apr 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This one is different and I loved it. Very glad to have won an advance copy through GoodReads. This book is a story about lovers, families, friends, and loners. The main storyteller, Stephen, is a priest returning to his hometown as his mother is dying. As the main narrator of the story, we find out Stephen's life story and more. Other voices that fill in the blanks come into play and they tell the story of Stephen's father and grandfather, the town founder. We learn about logging and we are int ...more
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-author
Wow, this book has a little bit of everything. It is a mutigenerational epic story. It is a tale of survival, love, perseverance, and a little bit of magic sprinkled on top. the book takes place in a fictional town in British Columbia that is formed when Jeannot comes out west to look for gold. Slowly as others come in search of instant riches, the town of Sawgamet is born. Along with the hardships of surviving the challenging conditions, is the mythical creatues who live in the woods. The story ...more
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel reminded me of One Hundred Years of Solitude in terms of the sort of mythos built and this beautiful feel of magical realism. Spanning decades, the narrator speaks of the present, his childhood, and the stories his grandfather told him of the early generation of Sawgamet, the north-woods boomtown which his grandfather founded. Filled with elements of the supernatural--mahahas, wendigo, qallupilluit, and others--the mixture that made this into a sort of north-woods magical realism was ...more
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so beautiful! And cold, so very, very cold! Zentner takes us back to the beginning of what became the logging industry in Canada's north woods, using stories told of, and by, three generations of men in one family. The stories include ghosts and various other supernatural beings, in addition to families, friends, competitors, and one dog. There is a lot of loss and love in this tale, change and continuity. The woods are beautiful and dangerous. The most harrowing and gruesome chapte ...more
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful tapestry in which the narrator's personal history, his family story, and the mythology of dark, cold forests are woven together without a seam or gap.

After all these years, Margaret Atwood is still right: Canadian literature is a story of survival.
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most magical and atmospheric books I've ever read. ...more
Pearse Anderson
Zentner is a god. I have an award-winning book review about this book, so I should probably go ahead and just copy it into here. Okay. Just gotta say, this is still one of my favorite books.

Though the year is still young, I believe that Touch by Alexi Zentner will be the best novel I read in 2015. Zentner, a local author, has built a temple to time, relationships, nature, and Americana in this close-to-perfect tale of magical realism. I met with Zentner to discuss writing and Touch.
All of Touch
Sep 01, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well done, touching work, but all a bit dark.
Abria Mattina
Apr 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Originally reviewedhere.

Touch: A Novel by Alexi Zentner is quintessential Canadian fiction. Told in the voice of Stephen, a middle-aged Anglican priest who has returned home to Sawgamet, British Columbia, to lead a parish and sit vigil at his mother's deathbed, Touch: A Novel tells the story of Sawgamet's birth and the legacy of Stephen's ancestors. One can never be sure if the stories are completely true or if the details were embellished to amuse Stephen as a child. When he narrates his own c
Dec 15, 2010 rated it really liked it

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I should start a judging by the cover book list, 'cause as far as I can tell, I am beginning to be pretty good at it. Touch was such a beautiful treat, I didn't want to part with my library copy when the time came (go request another haunting piece of literary fiction, will ya?). This little tome was everything I had hoped for all these six months (yes, I am that much of an oddity), and I hesitate not to give Zentner a chaste kiss of thankfulness ("prudery" is not dead ladies and ge
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star-books
A middle-aged Anglican priest comes back to his hometown in Northern Canada to be at his dying mother’s bedside and is flooded with memories, or rather tall tales – of the death of his father and sister, or the strange visitation of his grandfather when he was a boy. The tales revolve largely around the founding of Sawgamet, a gold-mining town, by the boy’s grandfather - although the dramatic death of his father and sister is a major part of the story and theme, both heart-breaking and mythic. T ...more
May 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantastical
Touch is an easy, enjoyable read. A pastor returns to the icy town of his youth, to his mother's deathbed. The novel weaves together the magical and tragic stories of his grandfather (founder of the town), his parents, his stepfather, and his own childhood--all permeated by harsh, dangerous winters that test each character in turn.

The chronological back-and-forth isn't always graceful; there wasn't all that much centralized suspense (though I kept turning pages, so Zentner was doing something ri
Sep 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: magical-realism
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to recive one of a few advance reader copies of the book Touch By Alexi Zentner.
The book is about Stephen, an Anglican Priest, basically narrarating three generations of his family; himself, father and grandfather living in the
boomtown Sawgament that Stephen's grandfather Jeanott discovered when he was 16. The book tells of the stories his father and grandfather told him when he was
young, but through the narration he adds his own wonder. The stories off family life and tra
Mar 01, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: march-2011
I was very excited to read this as I won the ARC here on first win!

I will start off saying that this is not something I would normally be drawn to. However, I really did enjoy it. This is a true storytellers story. I found the whole reality of what these people lived through fascinating. I think we all take for granted the many aspects of modern day life. I am not so sure I could handle everything this family lived through. I found Alexi Zentner's writing to be beautiful and heart
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Alexi Zentner lives in upstate New York with his wife and children. His novels have been published in sixteen countries and more than a dozen languages. He is the author of the novel, COPPERHEAD, forthcoming from Viking Penguin on July 9, 2019. He is also the author of the internationally acclaimed novels, THE LOBSTER KINGS, and TOUCH. Under the pseudonym Ezekiel Boone, Alexi is the author of the ...more

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