Reader reviews for The Shipping News: A Novel

An attention holding plot, and evocative writing. My one criticism is that she does use similes quite often, and some of them really don't work too well, but aside from this irritation, a recommended read.
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I only read this recently, and was very impressed.
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THE SHIPPING NEWS is a touching,atmospheric, and somewhat funny look at a man who needed just a little push (or a big boost) in the right direction to get his life on track. From all outward appearances, Quoyle,a patient, self-deprecating, oversized hack writer, has gone through his first 36 years on earth as a big schlump of a loser. He's not attractive, he's not brilliant or witty or talented, and he's not the kind of person who typically assumes the central position in a novel. But Proulx creates a simple and compelling tale of Quoyle's psychological and spiritual growth. Following the deaths of his abusive parents and adulteress wife, Quoyle moves with his two daughters and straight-thinking aunt, Agnes Hamm, back to the ancestral manse in Killick-Claw, a Newfoundland harbor town of no great distinction. Quoyle, with minimal experience as a newspaper man in New York, gets a job at the local newspaper, the Gammy Bird, recording the weekly shipping news, doing features on visiting ships, and covering local car wrecks. Agnes continues her business of upholstering ship and yacht interiors, and Quoyle's little girls settle into school and day care. Killick-Claw may not be perfect, but it is a stable enough community for Quoyle and Family to recover from the terrors of their past lives. But this is more than Quoyle's story: it is a moving re-creation of a place and people buffeted by nature and change.
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Not sure what to say about this one. The main charcter, Quoyle, draws you in and you wait and wait for things to go his way. The story of his life and everyday survival include details of life in a Newfoundland fishing community and work at a small town newspaper. I honestly considered putting this one down several times, but kept going and was glad I did.
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Proulx's "happy book." A pretty amazing journey of one buffoon into character and laughter.
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A wonderful tale of a man moving from chaotic indirection to self-knowledge and happiness. Prouxl's writing mirrors Quoyle's state and captures the people and fauna of Newfoundland using language that is rare and precious. Read the book, don't see the movie.
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The story of Quoyle, a 36-year-old widowed man and his two daughters along with his paternal aunt leave New York for their ancestral home in Newfoundland. This is the story of Quoyle as he becomes a person that is more than his combined mistakes but it is also a story of Newfoundland. Quoyle is haunted by his love for his deceased wife and thinks that there can never be another love. He worries that his daughter Bunny has been damaged by the loss of her mother. In Newfoundland, Quoyle finds his voice as a newspaperman. He fears water but it’s the water that helps make him into the man that Quoyle becomes. The story is also about the waters and coast of Newfoundland. The author’s beautiful use of words paints the skies, the water, the rocks and the weather so that it is savored as the words are digested. Ms Proulx won the Pulitzer Prize for this work and it is well deserved. She captured the land and people, she wrote a book that is creative and original. I learned about Newfoundland, a little about boats and a lot about knots.
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Picked up the Shippping News after I read Proulx's "Wyoming Stories." Excellent read. Great character development and beautiful descriptions of Newfoundland. Would have given the novel 5 stars but part of me was a little suspicious of the book's neat and tidy ending. Would probably read anything by this author. Currently waiting for my mother to finish "That Old Ace in the Hole" so I can read that next.
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“Omaloor Bay is called after Quoyles. Loonies. They was wild and inbred, half-wits and murderers. Half of them was low-minded.” (162)Annie Proulx Rocks. Pun Intended. Quoyle, protagonist of The Shipping News and known only by his surname, is a huge, miserable lug of a man, a failure-extraordinaire, excoriated by his family and cheated on by his wife. Middle-aged and father of two young daughters, Bunny and Sunshine, he agrees to move with his aunt, Agnis Hamm, back to the land of his roots: Newfoundland. Killick-Claw proves to be his silver lining. He lands a job at a quirky, local newspaper, Gammy Bird, where writes a weekly column, “The Shipping News.” (Part of his charm, the paper owner assures him, is that he doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about). Quoyle settles in, and one new experience follows another: he makes some steadfast friends; experiences some adventure on the high seas; and is in danger of coming of age when he is attracted to local widow, Wavey Prowse.The Shipping News is a story of Newfoundland and of its people: an isolated, wild, untamable place, populated by characters who are quirky as hell, tough as nails, and salt of the earth. By extension, it is also a story of the sea, glassy and murderous in equal parts. Proulx excels at bringing both place and character to the page. She introduces us to Killick-Claw’s harbormaster, identifying him first by physical appearance, and then by place, as he recalls a storm at sea:__________ “Diddy Shovel’s skin was like asphalt, fissured and cracked, thickened by a lifetime of weather, the scurf of age. Stubble worked through the craquelured surface. His eyelids collapsed in protective folds at the outer corners. Bristled eyebrows; enlarged pores gave the nose a sandy appearance. Jacket split at the shoulder seams.” (79)“It never leaves you. You never hear the wind after that without you remember that banshee moan, remember the watery mountains, crests torn into foam, the poor ship groaning. Bad enough at any time, but this was the deep of winter and the cold was terrible, the ice formed on rail and rigging until vessels was carrying thousands of pounds of ice. The snow drove so hard it was just a roar of white outside these windows. Couldn’t see the street below. The sides of the houses to the northwest was plastered a foot thick with snow as hard as steel.” (83)__________I think I’ve already made it obvious, but Proulx is genius. Her writing and her tone throughout capture both Newfoundland and its inhabitants beautifully, her sense of place and of character brilliant. Nor does she shy away from political comment, addressing head-on the longstanding economic strife of resource-rich Newfoundland, created in large(st) part by politics and politicians – “those twits in Ottawa.” (285) This is a book I’ve had on my shelf for years that I kept meaning to get to – I’m glad “later” finally arrived. Highly recommended.“All the complex wires of life were stripped out and he could see the structure of life. Nothing but rock and sea, the tiny figures of humans and animals against them for a brief time.” (196)
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This is an engaging story that makes a single new england town come alive with voices that will stay with you quite a while after the book is told. The characters are believable, and the story is there to back them up. I'd strongly recommend this story, although you might be aware that it will take a few dozen pages for it to really get started and interest you.
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