Books: Regressions First Light

by Charles Baxter Viking; 286 pages; $17.95

Hugh Welch is a Buick salesman in the small Michigan town where he was born and raised. One Fourth of July he, his wife and two small daughters have visitors: Hugh's younger sister Dorsey, an astrophysicist, arrives with her young son Noah, who is deaf, and her husband Simon, an actor. The day is hot. Hugh and Dorsey buy fireworks from a woman who remembers them both as children. Supper is served. The pyrotechnics go off without a hitch. Dorsey explains why Noah likes the cherry bombs: "He can feel their shock waves with his skin. It's as close as he...