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Synopses & Reviews
"A gritty, unblinking, compassionate portrait of addiction the deceptions, the exhausting repetitions, and most of all the agonizing dilemmas of parental love, which may or may not have the power to save but can never stop trying.” Joan Wickersham, author of The Suicide Index
"In this bold debut, Ginnah Howard navigates the precarious lives of her people with searing compassion and devastating honesty, opening our hearts to the dark wonder of shared grief and the flickering hope of forgiveness." Melanie Rae Thon, author of Sweet Hearts
"Night Navigation is unerring in its grasp of the multiple deceptions of the addictive relationship, the self-deceptions above all. You can't help getting furious at its characters. And you can't help loving them." — Peter Trachtenberg, author of The Book of Calamities
"I fully enjoyed and admired this sparely written, unspairing portrait of a deeply troubled American family. Ginnah Howard is a wonderful new writer." — Hilma Wolitzer, author of Summer Reading
"This dark debut is a wrenching account of a mother and son moving together and apart in an increasingly tragic family drama. In alternating memoirs, Del and Mark deal with heroin addiction and mental illness (his) and fears (hers) of a fate marked by junkies, pushers, halfway houses and recovery programs. But it's the persistent ghosts of a father and another son, and the guilt over their deaths that hold Del and Mark in a vise grip. Between grief and addiction, there's no easy forgiveness for these sad survivors. Through one bitter, lonely year, Mark and Del lose and find one another repeatedly, and they come to realize that loving someone means letting them love themselves. Howard is a graceful, spare and fluid writer, and her somber and bleak novel has the power to lift and inspire." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The house is cold. He doesn't look at her, just sits hunched at the kitchen table, with the hood of his sweatshirt up: under cover. Her son. He is even thinner than when she left.
Night Navigation opens on a freezing-rain night in upstate New York: the kindling gone; the fire in the wood stove out. Del's 37 year old manic-depressive son Mark is already in withdrawal and Del's afraid to make the long drive north to the only detox that has a bed.
Through the four seasons, Night Navigation takes us into the deranged, darkly humorous world of the addict — from gun-toting dealers, to boot camp rehabs, to Koan-spouting NA sponsors. It also takes us into the repeating nightmare of a mother's anger, worry, despair, and hope. Mark cannot find a way to live in this world. Del cannot stop trying to rescue him. Through this long year's night, as Mark fitfully, painfully tries to steer toward the light, the steadfast love of mother and son is their sole sustaining grace.
"Night Navigation" takes readers into the deranged, darkly humorous world of the addict--from gun-toting dealers to boot camp rehabs--and the nightmare of a mother's anger, worry, and despair as she tries to save her son from certain death.
Night Navigation opens on a freezing-rain night in upstate New York: the kindling gone, the fire in the woodstove out. Del’s thirty-seven-year-old manic-depressive son needs a ride, but she’s afraid to make the long drive north to the only detox that has a bed.
Through the four seasons, Night Navigation takes us into the deranged, darkly humorous world of the addict—from break-your-arm dealers, to boot-camp rehabs, to Rumi-quoting NA sponsors. Al-Anon tells Del to “let go”; NAMI tells her to “hang on.” Mark cannot find a way to live in this world. Del cannot stop trying to rescue him. And yet, during this long year’s night, through relapse and despair, they see flare-ups of hope as Mark and Del fitfully, painfully try to steer toward the light.
Told in the alternating voices of an addict and his mother, this riveting novel adds new depths to our understanding and our literature of parents and their troubled children.
About the Author
GINNAH HOWARD taught high school English for twenty-seven years and didn’t consider becoming a writer until her mid-forties. After several attempts at writing a memoir, she began a novel, Night Navigation. While many of the major events of Night Navigation actually took place, when the time came to speak in the voice of a thirty-seven-year-old man she relied on invention to bring his interior world to life. Her work has appeared in the Portland Review, Permafrost, and A Room of One’s Own, and has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
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