January 23, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

Opening lines from recently published books

”On her way to the grocery store, to which she could walk, in celebration of which she often wore lizard-skin cowboy boots and other dress excessive for a daily trip to buy food for a family, Mrs. Hollingsworth recited, ‘It loves me, it loves me not. I love it, I love it not — ‘ until she was interrupted by a child behind a picket fence next to the sidewalk.” From ”Trick or Treat” in Aliens of Affection (Henry Holt, $22.50), National Book Award nominee PADGETT POWELL’s new collection of short stories

”Joel talked her into throwing a birthday party for the dog. A big one. He wanted every pet from the neighborhood to come, with owners in tow. The invitations would be delivered by Hermann himself, each one clipped to a red bandanna around his neck. BYOB, they would read: Bring Your Own Bone.” From Bad Chemistry (Random House, $24), a suspense novel by GARY KRIST

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