The Trace, New Directions

The Trace is a poet's book, which is to say it is filled with the pleasures of language, sharply and skilfully used, but Forrest Gander also has the narrative drive of the best novelists. The Trace is a tense, propulsive thriller, which keeps on building until the very last page.
—HARI KUNZRU, author of GODS WITHOUT MEN


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“I haven’t read many novels as spooky and sublime and psychologically acute as Forrest Gander’s The Trace. It’s the portrait of a couple in crisis and their misguided road trip through the Chihuahua Desert, on the tracks of the writer Ambrose Bierce. Gander’s landscapes are lyrical and precise (“raw gashed mountains, gnarly buttes of andesite”), and his study of a marriage on the rocks is as empathetic as it is unsparing.” —Robyn Creswell, Paris Review

The Trace, Forrest Gander’s new masterful, poetic novel about a journey through Mexico, describes a couple recovering from a world shattered. Driving through the vast Chihuahua Desert, they retrace the steps of nineteenth-century American writer Ambrose Bierce, trying to piece together their lives after a devastating incident involving their adolescent son. With tenderness and precision, Gander explores the intimacies of their relationship as they travel through desert towns, through picturesque canyons and desertscapes, on a journey into themselves and through the heart of Mexico. As they take a short-cut through the brutally hot desert home, their car overheats miles from nowhere, the novel spinning out of control, and suddenly there are devastating consequences. . . . Poet Forrest Gander’s first novel As a Friend was acclaimed as “profound and relentlessly beautiful (Rikki Ducornet). With The Trace, Gander has accomplished another brilliant work, containing unforgettable glimpses of Mexico and a story both violent and tender.

Praise for Forrest Gander’s The Trace

“Gander’s poetic writing lends this adventure story a dense, brooding atmosphere; Dale and Hoa’s troubles unfold slowly in this carefully crafted novel of intimacy and isolation.”—A.D., The New Yorker

“Blown away by the bitter poetry & bubbling tension of Forrest Gander’s
The Trace— a brilliant take on a couple’s trip to Mexico going wrong.” —Stav Sherez, author of A Dark Redemption

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"With humility, empathy, and a fearless curiosity that is all too rare in contemporary fiction, The Trace is superbly literate fiction." —Elliot Bay Books

The Trace is a rule-breaking work of fierce imagination and rich, associative thinking. Love, landscape, poetry, pain—these draw Gander’s characters to the edge of the void. Paying attention to detail—its accumulation and its demands—is what keeps them from toppling in.” —John McElwee, The Oxford American

“Hot desert Texas and Mexico, a marriage trying to crumble under the heat, a wayward son who doesn’t communicate. Terse, sparse and very good writing. A little gem from a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist.”— Annie Philbrick, TheDay.com

“This book is both a pager-turner and a literary triumph.”— Frances Mayes (author of
Under the Tuscan Sun & Under Magnolia) at GoodReads

“I have three books on my bed-stand….The first is Forrest Gander’s sad and gritty novel The Trace.” —Daniel Handler (author of We are Pirates & aka Lemony Snicket), New York Times Book Review

Read Reviews Here
(by clicking on the publications below):

Lowry Pressly at
Los Angeles Review of Books

John Tytell at The American Book Review

John McElwee at
Oxford American

Susan Donnelly Cheever at The Colorado Review

Lee Matalone in
BookSlut

Tin House interview with John Benditt

Eric Blankenburg at Front Porch

Rob Cline at The Gazette

Nicholas Mancusi at
The Daily Beast

Michelle Lancaster at Rain Taxi

Paris Review Staff Picks

John Toews at McNallyRobinson

Publishers Weekly starred review

Jason Diamond in
Vol. 1 Brooklyn

Frances Mayes at GoodReads

Amanda Ferris at The Absolute Magazine

Andrea Denhoed at The New Yorker

Chad Felix at The Brooklyn Paper

FlavorWire Best Books of 2014

LargeHearted Boy

Tobias Carroll at Biographile

Hannah Alpert-Abrams at Full Stop

Annie Philbrick at The Day

The White Review

“The Many Deaths of Ambrose Bierce” at The Paris Review

Reyna Paz Avendaño en Cronica (México)

BookRiot’s 2014 Must-Read Books

René Steinke at
Washington Independent Review of Books

FlavorWire Best Book Covers of 2014

Bustle: Best Book Covers of 2014

Daniel Handler:
New York Times Book Review

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