Books: Star-Crossed Suburbia

Frederick Reiken deftly explores the mysteries of love and loss in The Lost Legends of New Jersey

Author Frederick Reiken has shown a knack for teasingly offbeat titles. He called his first novel The Odd Sea (1998), itself a rather odd construction that turns out to represent what a child in the book hears when a grownup mentions The Odyssey. This accidental pun turns out to be entirely appropriate to a story of strange, present-day wanderings. Now comes The Lost Legends of New Jersey (Harcourt; 312 pages; $24), which sounds like a nightclub joke, given the Garden State's unfortunate reputation as a wasteland that keeps New York City from bumping into Philadelphia.

But Anthony Rubin, the novel's teenage...

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