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A Mexican road novel of love, hate, drugs, and the Mexican Revolution.
The Trace is a masterful, poetic novel about a journey through Mexico taken by a couple recovering from a world shattered. Driving through the Chihuahua Desert, they retrace the route of nineteenth-century American writer Ambrose Bierce (who disappeared during the Mexican Revolution) and try 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 Mexican towns, through picturesque canyons and desertcapes, on a journey through the the heart of the Mexican landscape. Taking a shortcut through the brutally hot desert home, their car overheats miles from nowhere, the novel spinning out of control, with 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 poetic descriptions of Mexico and a story both violent and tender.
her hair but sensing something was askew. The polo wasn’t right, it was too thin, too tight. Or maybe she wasn’t wearing the right bra. Her breasts looked mashed in the front and rounded at the sides like sponge cakes. Whoever it was knocked on the door again lower down. “Just a second,” she repeated. She glanced anxiously at herself once more, and plucking up her coral blouse and purse, she turned and opened the door. It was a Mexican woman with her little girl and they all nodded as Hoa
This is how it had been going for months. As though she were stalled, unable to get her life on track again. The depression would slide its hands over Hoa’s shoulders and shove her under its fathomless water for days at a time. Dale would find her incommunicable, lying on the couch surrounded by pillows and unread magazines. At night, she drank too much wine and took too many pills. Then something would click, and Hoa would manage to reach through the devastation to some kernel of resiliency.
hissing.” The buoyancy in her voice lifted Dale out of a dark hole. Maybe the mood was lifting. But he had been mulling over their weird exchange at lunch for hours. He knew there were awful strains inside them both. Each of them harbored a shameful, still unconfessed sense of responsibility for what had happened to Declan, for his accident and his lack of communication. Still, Dale had come to think that Hoa was right about some of what she’d said at lunch. That he engaged with people out of
He traced a gland in her neck that seemed swollen. She didn’t wake, and after a few more strokes he stopped. On her back now, Hoa slept with her arms folded behind her head, taking a few feathery, snoring breaths and then going quiet, her face nodding upward. Dale was growing accustomed to the dark, and he imagined for a few seconds that he could see her nostrils flaring and relaxing. In the combination of lamplight and moonlight from the window, Hoa’s lips parted. Once, she moved her left hand
had been cool enough to rouse herself to try rolling up the windows. But they were electric and Dale had the keys in his pocket or somewhere. She had jostled his shoulder and called his name but by then — whenever that was, early this morning before any hint of light — he must have been in a stupor and didn’t wake, so she lay back down and listened to a far off yipping she couldn’t identify. Some cross between a small dog and a rooster. Now, she felt around on the floor for her Adidas and put