A letter from a stranger that is a gift:
“I was only a few pages into [Instructor], when I smiled at [X] and told her I was already amazed, and said something like “she knows how language works.” A silly thought, but I hope you get it, that some writers merely lay out a path for the reader and zoom ahead, where some writers know how to spark the reader’s imagination to create an entire, and spherical world. Your prose is so crisp, so surprising, fine edged without being arch, and capable of describing what we thought couldn’t be described (much in the way, I guess, that Henry’s drawings do). I would read your grocery lists. And no, it’s now showin’-my-stuff kind of fireworks language, it’s much more urgent than that. It’s beautiful because it’s true. Not ornamental but essential.
And I want to say that the book is so reminiscent of Woolf. Not in the language, necessarily (though there’s some of that, but without her lovely maximalism), but rather in the entire experience, a world brought up and posed before us, and every aspect of that world illuminated, nothing denied. Does this make sense? I used the word spherical above, and that’s the feeling here for me, the entire sphere of existence. Your sense of the world and how we perceive it, and argue and relish it at once, how we are never immune to it? A teeming globe.
What strikes me most—what struck me most—was the tenderness of it all. Not moon-cow tenderness, all soppy-eyed, but a true fierce tenderness, the characters for one another, the writer to the characters, the world toward the characters. We don’t see enough of this tenderness, and yet it runs all through our days. It’s a tenderness that does not obliterate the world, but reveals it. Oh, I love them all, these people, and these places.
Finally, there’s not a false note anywhere in here, not one. Your approach to grief—grief so often handled morosely or hysterically in fiction—is true and original, true because it’s original to these characters. The relationship between Henry and Ydessa is so authentic.
In short: I love this novel. I will keep it and re-read it. It’s one of the finest novels I’ve read in ages. I hope it finds many many readers.”