There’s a certain mystique to American motorways. Endless expanses of asphalt with nothing but the radio and the stars for company; a anonymous landscape of diners, truck stops, and ramshackle motels; flat plains that rise into mountainous ranges or dip into valleys lush with forests; a freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want. It’s no wonder that so much fiction pivots on the axis of the road trip.
However, such places can also be terrifying. It’s easy to get lost here, easy to vanish into that topography of intersections and one-pub towns, easy to meet the wrong person and be reduced to a missing person’s report. And this is where the new serial fiction podcast Alice Isn’t Dead finds us. Not in the potential of travel, but its worst outcome.
The basic premise of the show is simple: a truck driver is travelling the United States looking for the wife she’d assumed was dead. Because it shares a creator with the darkly comedic Welcome To Night Vale (which we absolutely love), you’d be forgiven if you expected something relatively humorous. I certainly did. But where the former is a mix of the macabre and the morbidly funny, the latter … isn’t.