The Trace, New Directions

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Andrea Denhoed at The New Yorker

This novel follows a married couple, Dale and Hoa, on a road trip across Texas and into Mexico after what is initially referred to only as “their son’s accident”—a tragedy that has left them alienated from one another and has thrown Hoa into a deep depression. They embark on a trip to trace the final path of the writer Ambrose Bierce, who disappeared in 1913, after setting out to join the Mexican Revolution. (Dale is ostensibly working on a biography of Bierce.) Their journey becomes more fraught than they had anticipated, marked by accidents and dangerous encounters in the middle of the lonely desert. 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.