Claire,

We met about a year ago at Hamline’s July residency, where you came to speak about writing. I stumbled upon you on the lower level of Anderson Center. 

 

We talked about our love for frame stories and how difficult they are to write. You had asked me to email you after reading Navigating Early to tell you what I thought. It took me a while to get around to reading the story. Somethings you want to keep a good book for the right quiet summer afternoon. I read your book with great interest. I will be honest and say that I did struggle with the beginning. It started slowly, but after reading the whole book, I wouldn’t change a thing. I usually read fantasy and resist stories written in first person. Frankly, I put them down. Yet, Navigating Early was one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read.

This book is now within my top five favorite books:
  1. Les Miserables
  2. Bridge to Terabithia
  3. Navigating Early
  4. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
  5. A Monster Calls
 

This book was wickedly complex, not just in plotting, but in the emotional plotting as well. Somehow you stayed with one key character and managed to tell five complete stories: Jackie, Early, Pi, Fisher, and Jackie’s Dad’s. They all fit and easily moved around the story of Pi. You made math interesting. You made Early fantastic. and Jack’s father sympathetic. They all walked the same story of grief and finding their way back home. I don’t know how you did it. Each story, the Norwegian woodsman, Captain McScott, and Mrs. Johansson fit into Jack’s story and the story of Pi so beautifully.  I wish I could construct something so seamless.

The story was so beautiful it frustrated me. I know that we as writers aren’t suppose to compare. But I like to think of it this way. I think we as green writers can look at a senior writer’s work and appreciate and covet the skill used to create that piece.

There is great artistry here; in your control of story, your ability to access your heart, and the way in which you wove it all together. It would be as if I were to ask my mother how she rolled out her pie crust. I have the recipe but I can’t do it the same way. I see your work and tell myself that one day that I would like to roll out a story like you.

I eagerly wait to read Navigating Early to my children. To let them know that sometimes we all get lost and need a helping hand to find our way back. Again, can I say the story was beautiful and it changed me, as all great literature does. And I suppose I’m frustrated because I’m a writer and I know the skill it takes to shape such a cohesive story. As I read, I studied your work carefully. I can say that I’m still trying to learn how you so artfully used Pi’s story to affect and influence all the others. You had a lot of stories and I loved every one of them.

All this to say, I loved your story. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. Thank you for writing Navigating Early.

Warm wishes,

-dan

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