In the kitchen of literature, Forrest Gander’s “The Trace” is your slow cooker. Contents within are revealed, over time, to be distinct, enriching, and (almost alarmingly) satisfying. Here, a couple in the wake of a traumatic, unspoken event involving their son are on the road in Mexico. They’re visiting the various alleged death sites of the American author Ambrose Bierce, they’re sitting in silence, and they’re dodging suspicious stares from the locals and the glare of the sun. And then they’re stranded in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert. Tense and poetic, welcome this hearty, heady broth into your system.
— Chad Felix, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbr
This may be one of my favorite books this year. “Adultery” doesn’t just speak of cheating, it focuses on the journey of life and faith. This is a book that requires the reader to do some hard thinking about his or her own life and to be aware that restlessness and boredom can lead to constructive change or to destruction.
— Christine Freglette, The BookMark Shoppe [8415 Third Ave. between 84th and 85th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 833–5115, www.bookma
Derek Palacio’s debut novella circles Javi’s first boxing match in the days following Marcel’s murder. Oscar, the owner of the gym and Marcel’s brother, is left with his brother’s business and lover. Through flashback, Marcel becomes larger than life as he links these two men together. This book is poetic, smartly told, and fits in your back pocket. It’s about how to connect with another human being. One of my favorites of 2014.
— Jess Pane, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenl