After a few stand-alone novels, Pelletier returns to her fictional town of Mattagash, Maine, for another seriocomic tour-de-force. Along with Fannie Flagg and fellow Mainer Stephen King, Pelletier is brilliant at nuancing an entire town, pinballing from eccentric character to eccentric character. These include a retiring mailman, a wannabe drug mogul, a middle-aged mother who wants a new life, and a reclusive Vietnam vet/widower. Though plenty of the set pieces seem at first to be included for the laugh-out-loud sake of it, trust Pelletier: it all fits together with fragile, melancholy beauty. On Saturday, you've got a double-dip chance to meet Pelletier; she's doing a 1 p.m. luncheon/signing at Bank Square Books in Mystic (860- 536-3795) and a 7 p.m. reading/signing at R.J. Julia in Madison (203-245-3959).
- RICK KOSTER