In her debut novel, Lynn Sloan relates a complex story of love and betrayal and the kind of longing that often lies buried in the folds of life’s struggles and routines. Alice and Rolly Becotte live in a small Indiana college town. Alice is happy with her job as a reporter for the local newspaper, but Rolly, a sculptor who once had work displayed in a Chicago gallery, is frustrated by a series of artistic reversals and his current position as a professor at a “backwater” school.
In Principles of Navigation the couple moves through the balancing act that is marriage: Whose needs are met; Who determines the “cast of everything.” While Rolly grows increasingly more invested in his art, Alice becomes more fiercely committed to having a baby, a quest that takes them through bitter loss and deceit and teaches both how deeply grief can wound.
Lynn Sloan’s novel is both delicate and harsh. It is a quiet book, beautifully written, rich in symbolism and steeped in the pathos of ordinary lives. With a deft touch, she navigates through turbulent waters of ambition, lust and infidelity.
“We are perfect here, aren’t we?” Rolly says in the opening line. Sadly, the two drift further and further from this ideal until the very concept of perfection is beyond their grasp.
Sloan’s short stories have appeared in numerous journals, including American Literary Review, and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is also an established photographer and teacher; her fine art photography has been exhibited nationally and internationally.