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by Lynn Sloan
Cover Design by Sarah Faust
In a small town in Indiana, on the cusp of the new millennium, local reporter Alice Becotte wants what should be simple: a baby to fill her heart and complete her family. But Alice’s husband Rolly, a talented sculptor, harbors ambitions that draw him away from a steady teaching gig at a “backwater” college and unravel the couple’s moorings. Principles of Navigation explores Alice and Rolly’s journey through loss, infidelity and heartbreak. When each partner is tested and found wanting, they are forced to find a way to move on, without map or compass, guided only by fragile and fleeting glimpses of grace.
About the Author
Lynn Sloan is a writer and photographer who grew up as an Air Force brat, moving from state to state and country to country. Once she could decide where to live, she chose a share-your-tomatoes, shovel-your-neighbors’-snow neighborhood in Evanston, Illinois.
She graduated from Northwestern University, earned a master’s degree in photography at The Institute of Design, formerly the New Bauhaus. Her fine art photographs have been exhibited nationally and internationally, and collected by major museums. For many years, she taught in the photography department of Columbia College Chicago and wrote for Afterimage, Art Week, and Exposure.
Writing about the visual arts led to writing fiction. Her stories have appeared in numerous journals, including American Literary Review, The Literary Review, Ploughshares, and Sou’wester. Principles of Navigation is her first novel.
“Lynn Sloan’s Principles of Navigation charts the course of a marriage under stress, of spouses growing apart and finding their way to a new heading in a heartbreakingly beautiful story of a partnership that goes beyond marriage, beyond romantic love, into unknown territory where the characters have to forge a new way of being, and in the process transform their world from a myopic self-centered and tiny universe to an expansive and embracing one of love in action.
Alice, a small-town reporter whose overarching drive is toward motherhood, and Rolly, professor and on-the-verge-of-greater-things artist whose concerns are career oriented, find themselves in love’s uncharted waters in this beautifully evocative portrait of two individuals in a marriage breaking apart. With scenes of tender beauty and empathy, Lynn Sloan’s visual, visceral prose breathes life into these characters, their separate and shared failures, struggles, and triumphs. Her luminous descriptions of place and people, swift and deft, almost photographic, yet painterly, bring this landscape and its inhabitants into full focus for the reader.
Stunning evocative details seen through the eyes of flawed, eminently human characters whose dreams seem incompatible are the unforgettable hallmarks of this moving and vivid, intimate portrait of a relationship shown from the alternating perspectives of both spouses, Alice and Rolly Becotte. Lynn Sloan’s debut novel is, like Alice and Rolly, unforgettable.”
— Sharon Darrow, author of The Trash
Principles of Navigation is an absorbing, poignant novel that artfully distills the many ways in which love can fail us -- yet also take us by surprise when we need it most.”
—Katherine Shonk, author of Happy Now? and The Red Passport
“I have read and admired Lynn Sloan's short fiction for years, and I was prepared to be impressed by Principles of Navigation, her assured and gripping debut novel. But as it happened I was not really prepared—for the alternately touching and harrowing degrees of self-awareness that come to a husband and wife in what appears at the outset to be a promising and dimensional conjugal match. Beneath their outwardly conventional surfaces, both wife and husband reckon with realities darker and deeper and wilder than they had grown up to expect. For its psychological acuity and for its narrative grace, Principles of Navigation is at once deeply satisfying and unsettling.”
—Richard Hawley, author of The Headmaster’s Papers, The Headmaster’s Wife, and the story collection The Other World
“As the navigator of this remarkable novel, Lynn Sloan tracks the mistakes and misjudgments committed by a wife and a husband in their separate pursuits of happy and productive lives, and we follow her, because we trust her firm commitment to maintaining neutrality. In dialogue worthy of being performed in the best theaters in America, she finds the emotions and needs the characters are willing to show each other, and in strong and elegant prose she reaches down to the fears and desires they hide, sometimes even from themselves.”
—Fred Shafer, literary editor, writer, lecturer, Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies.