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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News is a vigorous, darkly comic, and at times magical portrait of the contemporary North American family.

Quoyle, a third-rate newspaper hack, with a “head shaped like a crenshaw, no neck, reddish hair...features as bunched as kissed fingertips,” is wrenched violently out of his workaday life when his two-timing wife meets her just desserts. An aunt convinces Quoyle and his two emotionally disturbed daughters to return with her to the starkly beautiful coastal landscape of their ancestral home in Newfoundland. Here, on desolate Quoyle’s Point, in a house empty except for a few mementos of the family’s unsavory past, the battered members of three generations try to cobble up new lives.

Newfoundland is a country of coast and cove where the mercury rarely rises above seventy degrees, the local culinary delicacy is cod cheeks, and it’s easier to travel by boat and snowmobile than on anything with wheels. In this harsh place of cruel storms, a collapsing fishery, and chronic unemployment, the aunt sets up as a yacht upholsterer in nearby Killick-Claw, and Quoyle finds a job reporting the shipping news for the local weekly, the Gammy Bird (a paper that specializes in sexual-abuse stories and grisly photos of car accidents).

As the long winter closes its jaws of ice, each of the Quoyles confronts private demons, reels from catastrophe to minor triumph—in the company of the obsequious Mavis Bangs; Diddy Shovel the strongman; drowned Herald Prowse; cane-twirling Beety; Nutbeem, who steals foreign news from the radio; a demented cousin the aunt refuses to recognize; the much-zippered Alvin Yark; silent Wavey; and old Billy Pretty, with his bag of secrets. By the time of the spring storms Quoyle has learned how to gut cod, to escape from a pickle jar, and to tie a true lover’s knot.

Topics: Daughters, American Author, 20th Century, Single Parent, Female Author, Nova Scotia, Small Town, Funny, Lyrical, Family, Maritime, Love, Made into a Movie, and Gritty

Published: Scribner on
ISBN: 9780743519809
List price: $11.99
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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)more
unforgettable characters..and insightful chapter openings...her best work..more
So dark, depressing and bleak I could not get very far into this book. No matter how many times people told me it has a happy ending, my feeling is that it's not worth the slog.more
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this book up but I was pleasantly surprised. The author has an interesting writing style where she uses a lot of short sentences to keep the book moving along. It could get a bit overwhelming at time with the amount of fishing and/or Newfoundland slang and technical terms but I persevered and thought it was worth it. One criticism is that the main characters first name is never revealed. It's always "Quoyle" or "the Nephew" or some such. A minor flaw but like an annoying itch. All up it's definitely worth reading.more
I don't really like Proulx's terse writing style, but it's a perfect match for this story and setting.more
one of Zada's favorites, I liked it but didn't love it. Maybe just not in the right mood for it.more
This was a good read. I liked the story and the writing style was interestingly different, although it did take a bit to get used to. I like how the author gently ties the strings of his life together, instead of beating you in the face with the "message" over and over. It's subtle and enjoyable.more
The Shipping News is very well-written. It’s poetic, and a good example of realism. The characters are sincere and believable.more
I need to reread this soon, but I remember being delighted and absorbed by this quirky tale of new beginnings for Quoyle, our hapless hero, in a wildly imagined Newfoundland. I loved the character of the aunt!more
Wonderful, poetic and mesmerizing. I'm not sure how to properly categorize it, and yet I can't resist the temptation to try: it's a middle-age coming of age-story, A travelogue of Newfoundland, a reflection on the progress of our modern age and it's influence on society, all roled up in one. And it's about the sea, of course, and the people who make o living from it and are dependent on it. And love it in their way. Proulx somehow pulls of letting the chacters be theese tall-tale eccentric local figures, while at the same time giving them all rich personalities and believable faces.I've never lived on the coast of Newfoundland, so I'm not in any position to comment on realism, but to me it feels genuine and true - sympathetic, yet unflinching, and never condescending or sentimental about the "old ways" ant it'sabout poverty, isolation, hardship, and helplessness.I liked it much more than I thought I would.more
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.more
A wonderfully easy and enjoyable book to read. Great quirky characters with real life experience.more
Superb, quirky writing style. No movie could do justice to the book.more
I really loved Annie Proulx's "The Shipping News," the story of Quoyle, a big lump of a man whose emotions run flat as he is pushed and pulled around by his philandering wife Petal. After losing most of what ties him down, he moves with his children and an aunt he'd never met to his ancestral home in Newfoundland to start a new life reporting the shipping news. I liked Proulx's style -- short crisp newspaper like sentences and her use of knots at the start of each chapter to describe the changes in her characters. As Quoyle changes, the pace of the book moves from slow and methodical to near-blistering... I took a half a star off just because the last few chapters seemed too jarring to me -- tying everything up at the end as quickly as possible. Overall, a really wonderful and interesting story.more
This isn't the type of book that I would usually read, but despite I enjoyed it nonetheless. The story seems to float all over the place at first, which is initially jarring but did grow on me over time. The hostile landscape of Newfoundland is beautifully described; I actually started feel cold while reading it. The Shipping News certainly won't going to appeal to everyone, but it's definitely worth giving it a try - you may be pleasantly surprised.more
Story of Quoyle, a man married to a bitch of a woman Petal whom he stays with depote the fact that she cheats on him and does nothing to care for their two daughers. Quoyles parents die and long lost aunt comes into the picture when Petal also dies trying to get away from Quoyle. The aunt decides they need to go back to their homeland in Newfoundland and then the story really takes off. About Quoyles life as a newspaperman, tying to raise two kids while the aunt reconstructs the old family home. Quoyle really comes into himself and is no longer the beat down man Petal made him into. Excellant book. While I love E Annie Proulx I have no idea what set tis book apart from all her others and made it into a Pulitzer Prize winning novel.more
This is an engaging, believable story, and one that is well-told. My only real problem with it is Proulx's choice to occasionally leave out the verbs or pronouns from her prose. I understand this as a stylistic choice, but I'm a fan using all the parts of speech we have at our disposal, and I find it frustrating when authors deliberately make their work hard to read in order to have a distinctive "voice".more
The novel was excellent and I see myself reading it again. I found it in a used bookstore. I love used bookstores. I went in with high hopes that I would be able to find another Barbara Pym novel or find “Whistling in the Dark.” I looked over the stock and found “The Shipping News.”I’ll be honest, I wasn’t looking for “The Shipping News.” Yet the proprietor was so nice, I just couldn’t leave without buying something – and I needed a book. Well, I thought to myself let’s see if the Pulitzer Prize can still pick ‘em.They did all right picking this one. My Mother was born in Canada, when I was in grade school, she raised her right hand and swore allegiance, to the United States. Whenever we don’t see eye to eye on something I begin to sing “Oh Canada.” The Shipping News was not about life in Canada – oddly enough it reflected more of what life is not in the United States. Like a dog to a bone, I keep going back to the Christian way of life and how it is nothing like it ought to be in here in the good ole U.S.A. Yeah we have big churches, lots of emotion, tons of lights and nobody knows anyone. Not so in “The Shipping News,” and Ms Proulx does not let the reader over look the fact that Christians are less than they ought to be – a minor theme in the story a major theme to me. Anyway – Great: “The Shipping News’” Newfoundland is different. I was twelve when found myself in Newfoundland. I was 12 in 1976 and it was in May and I was with my Grandmother – another Canadian – and we were freezing our back ends off trying to board a plane to England. And then freezing our butts off trying to board a plane to Chicago. Oh the impressions that stick when is twelve. That rock, that cold gray rock of Newfoundland, I nearly wanted to kiss the ground of Chicago, the lights the sounds the – home. I was home with all its raw energy and violence but that desolation of cold was not forgotten. It left an impression. So when I felt compelled to spend money in a used book store because the proprietor tried to help me but couldn’t find what I was looking for – well I thought why not “The Shipping News.”Pulitzer PrizeCanadaNewfoundland. How could I go wrong?So at the end of the novel, feeling raw again because I am a Christian and depressed because the church can’t seem to reflect Christ and it shows up continually in our literature I was out of breath, sad and still glad I read the book. The author’s style, slowed me down – a good thing. Her humor – she had me laughing aloud more than once. The characters, I might be a pottering old fool someday – I hope the characters never leave me. I’d recommend this book.more
Quoyle: A coil of ropeIt took nearly 5 chapters of dogged reading before I realized what a gem of a book I'd found in The Shipping News. The storytelling is subtle while the writing is close-knit. Each sentence paints a tiny picture of Quoyle's metamorphosis.Quoyle is delivered to us as a man with a "great damp loaf of a body" and a "giant's chin." These descriptions become characters unto themselves, tormenting and comforting Quoyle in turns. His hapless forays into life have not been kind but he's more resigned than bitter. He never expected much else. A disastrous marriage, his parents' deaths, and suddenly Quoyle is cut free, alone, the single father of two girls. His options being nonexistent he decides to join his Aunt in a trek to the forgotten family place in Newfoundland where he takes a job writing the Shipping News for a small town newspaper. Things begin to change.My first reaction when I finished this book was "I'm in love! How am I this late to the Annie Proulx party?" The feeling still hasn't worn off. I must, must read everything she's ever written immediately. Or shortly thereafter.more
It was choppy. That writing style. Kind of jarring. And dull. As stories go. Very dull.more
This would be a brilliantly bad beach novel. The reviews on the covers say it all, really - a wonderful portrait of odd but loveable characters in a stark icy nowhereland, described with crisp, sharp writing to match the setting.more
The Shipping News follows the life of Quoyle, an ugly, unskilled slob who is trying to make a name for himself. After his whorish wife, Petal, leaves him and tries to sell their kids to a pornographer, she dies in a car accident. In an attempt to restart his life, he moves to Newfoundland where he meets new people and discovers a new way of life. Over the course of the novel, Quoyle has many struggles, but he is eventually able to rediscover himself and start a new, decent life. Although at times a difficult read due to Proulx’s awkward syntax, the novel, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is great story in the end.more
About three-quarters of the way through this novel, I found myself silently pleading with the author not to let anything bad happen to the characters I had come to know. That’s when I realized that I had also come to care about these characters and their lives.The main character is Quoyle, a big, introverted man who is self-consciously aware of all his faults and failings, and who stumbles his way through life without planning or design. He becomes a newspaperman by happenstance, then falls into a lopsided marriage with a philandering woman who dies in a car accident while in the act of leaving him for another man — but not before she gives him two daughters, whom he loves almost painfully. After his wife’s death, Quoyle allows his only relative, whom he refers to as “the aunt,” to persuade him to move to their long-abandoned family home in Newfoundland.Newfoundland comes across as a bleak, godforsaken place, where drowning accidents and child abuse are commonplace. Storms, winter, unemployment and deep-fried foods plague the people who live there. The house they return to is without electricity or bathrooms, literally bolted to the bare rock. But despite himself, Quoyle makes a home in Newfoundland, and begins to build a life. He lands a job on the local newspaper reporting the shipping news, makes friends and even meets a woman. Through his eyes, we see the good-hearted side of Newfoundland, as well as all the depressing aspects of life there.Proulx tells her story of a quiet man rebuilding his life with warmth and good humor. One particular scene, of a raucous, drunken party in the trailer of Quoyle’s colleague, made me grimace and laugh out loud at the same time. Even though Proulx never writes a complete sentence when a fragment will do (which I found a little annoying), this novel gathered me in and made me care. By the end, I was heartily rooting for Quoyle to find the happiness he didn’t think he deserved.more
This was a story with a very simple plot, but it was so well written it doesn’t matter. It’s about a social outcast looking to overcome past abuse and get a new start. The characters in the book were all very unique and each told stories of their own struggles. The writing style of the book is very different, and took some getting used to, but it worked well with the story. The author’s depiction of the Newfoundland landscape was so brilliantly done that I felt as though I had been there. The life of a small, coastal town was wonderfully captured. For some odd reason I especially loved the chapter headings and pictures of the knots. I can’t wait to finally see the movie now that I’ve read the book. A great read.more
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.more
'I enjoyed Poscards so much I had to read this one and it, also, was absolutely marvelous. A strange beat to her writing and she captures your imagination with wonderful descriptions and dialogue. Bittersweet but great.'more
This was a story with very little plot, but it was so well written I didn't really care. Proulx has a very individual writing style - sort of staccato, descriptions boiled down to the essentials with all the grammatical faffing around removed. Her depiction of the Newfoundland landscape was so brilliantly done that I felt as though I had been there, despite the fact that I never have and probably never will. Humour was in plentiful supply (not least in terms of the characters' names). I loved the account of the party to which only men were invited. Despite the fact that, by definition, Ms Proulx has surely never been to such a party (and neither have I) everything about it was spot on, down to the main character's reaction to the loudness of the music (which "rearranged his atoms and quashed thought"). Just superb.more
The way that the book was written made it hard to get into for me, but I did feel sympathy towards the characters and a certain desire to know what would happen next.more
Proulx is the author of the short story "Brokeback Mountain" which was made into the film of the same name. I read that short story soon after seeing the movie and remember finding it moving. But Proulx might be one of those authors whose extreme styles are more effective (at least for me) at the shorter lengths. I love several short stories by James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway, for instance, but hate the novels by them I've tried. In the case of Proulx, her style quickly wore on me. I'm truly not a Grammar Nazi; fiction is not meant to be an essay. But she uses sentence fragments so frequently she doesn't flow, and boy she piles on the metaphors in her drawn-out descriptions. But the worse part is the protagonist: Quoyle. This is a paragraph of how he's described early on which should give you an idea of Proulx's characterization and style: A great damp loaf of a body. At six he weighed eighty pounds. At sixteen he was buried under a casement of flesh. Head shaped like a crenshaw, no neck, reddish hair ruched back. Features as bunched as kissed fingertips. Eyes the color of plastic. The monstrous chin, a freakish shelf jutting from the lower face.Note the choppy syntax. That could be effective done sparingly but the entire book is written like that. (And er...plastic has a color? Kissed fingertips are bunched? Really?) Quoyle's a lump of a character in every way who has never been able to hold a job long. His wife, Petal Bear, who thankfully is killed off early in the novel, sold their two young girls to a pornographer. (The girls are found before they can be harmed.) The pace is slooooow and about a third of the way I knew I'd had enough. I struggled to get that far. Painful. If you don't love Proulx's style--and I hated it--there's no reason to stay.more
this was a really good book once you waded 1/2 way through, then the pace picked up and the characters became more alive and interesting.more
Read all 87 reviews

Reviews

“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)more
unforgettable characters..and insightful chapter openings...her best work..more
So dark, depressing and bleak I could not get very far into this book. No matter how many times people told me it has a happy ending, my feeling is that it's not worth the slog.more
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this book up but I was pleasantly surprised. The author has an interesting writing style where she uses a lot of short sentences to keep the book moving along. It could get a bit overwhelming at time with the amount of fishing and/or Newfoundland slang and technical terms but I persevered and thought it was worth it. One criticism is that the main characters first name is never revealed. It's always "Quoyle" or "the Nephew" or some such. A minor flaw but like an annoying itch. All up it's definitely worth reading.more
I don't really like Proulx's terse writing style, but it's a perfect match for this story and setting.more
one of Zada's favorites, I liked it but didn't love it. Maybe just not in the right mood for it.more
This was a good read. I liked the story and the writing style was interestingly different, although it did take a bit to get used to. I like how the author gently ties the strings of his life together, instead of beating you in the face with the "message" over and over. It's subtle and enjoyable.more
The Shipping News is very well-written. It’s poetic, and a good example of realism. The characters are sincere and believable.more
I need to reread this soon, but I remember being delighted and absorbed by this quirky tale of new beginnings for Quoyle, our hapless hero, in a wildly imagined Newfoundland. I loved the character of the aunt!more
Wonderful, poetic and mesmerizing. I'm not sure how to properly categorize it, and yet I can't resist the temptation to try: it's a middle-age coming of age-story, A travelogue of Newfoundland, a reflection on the progress of our modern age and it's influence on society, all roled up in one. And it's about the sea, of course, and the people who make o living from it and are dependent on it. And love it in their way. Proulx somehow pulls of letting the chacters be theese tall-tale eccentric local figures, while at the same time giving them all rich personalities and believable faces.I've never lived on the coast of Newfoundland, so I'm not in any position to comment on realism, but to me it feels genuine and true - sympathetic, yet unflinching, and never condescending or sentimental about the "old ways" ant it'sabout poverty, isolation, hardship, and helplessness.I liked it much more than I thought I would.more
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.more
A wonderfully easy and enjoyable book to read. Great quirky characters with real life experience.more
Superb, quirky writing style. No movie could do justice to the book.more
I really loved Annie Proulx's "The Shipping News," the story of Quoyle, a big lump of a man whose emotions run flat as he is pushed and pulled around by his philandering wife Petal. After losing most of what ties him down, he moves with his children and an aunt he'd never met to his ancestral home in Newfoundland to start a new life reporting the shipping news. I liked Proulx's style -- short crisp newspaper like sentences and her use of knots at the start of each chapter to describe the changes in her characters. As Quoyle changes, the pace of the book moves from slow and methodical to near-blistering... I took a half a star off just because the last few chapters seemed too jarring to me -- tying everything up at the end as quickly as possible. Overall, a really wonderful and interesting story.more
This isn't the type of book that I would usually read, but despite I enjoyed it nonetheless. The story seems to float all over the place at first, which is initially jarring but did grow on me over time. The hostile landscape of Newfoundland is beautifully described; I actually started feel cold while reading it. The Shipping News certainly won't going to appeal to everyone, but it's definitely worth giving it a try - you may be pleasantly surprised.more
Story of Quoyle, a man married to a bitch of a woman Petal whom he stays with depote the fact that she cheats on him and does nothing to care for their two daughers. Quoyles parents die and long lost aunt comes into the picture when Petal also dies trying to get away from Quoyle. The aunt decides they need to go back to their homeland in Newfoundland and then the story really takes off. About Quoyles life as a newspaperman, tying to raise two kids while the aunt reconstructs the old family home. Quoyle really comes into himself and is no longer the beat down man Petal made him into. Excellant book. While I love E Annie Proulx I have no idea what set tis book apart from all her others and made it into a Pulitzer Prize winning novel.more
This is an engaging, believable story, and one that is well-told. My only real problem with it is Proulx's choice to occasionally leave out the verbs or pronouns from her prose. I understand this as a stylistic choice, but I'm a fan using all the parts of speech we have at our disposal, and I find it frustrating when authors deliberately make their work hard to read in order to have a distinctive "voice".more
The novel was excellent and I see myself reading it again. I found it in a used bookstore. I love used bookstores. I went in with high hopes that I would be able to find another Barbara Pym novel or find “Whistling in the Dark.” I looked over the stock and found “The Shipping News.”I’ll be honest, I wasn’t looking for “The Shipping News.” Yet the proprietor was so nice, I just couldn’t leave without buying something – and I needed a book. Well, I thought to myself let’s see if the Pulitzer Prize can still pick ‘em.They did all right picking this one. My Mother was born in Canada, when I was in grade school, she raised her right hand and swore allegiance, to the United States. Whenever we don’t see eye to eye on something I begin to sing “Oh Canada.” The Shipping News was not about life in Canada – oddly enough it reflected more of what life is not in the United States. Like a dog to a bone, I keep going back to the Christian way of life and how it is nothing like it ought to be in here in the good ole U.S.A. Yeah we have big churches, lots of emotion, tons of lights and nobody knows anyone. Not so in “The Shipping News,” and Ms Proulx does not let the reader over look the fact that Christians are less than they ought to be – a minor theme in the story a major theme to me. Anyway – Great: “The Shipping News’” Newfoundland is different. I was twelve when found myself in Newfoundland. I was 12 in 1976 and it was in May and I was with my Grandmother – another Canadian – and we were freezing our back ends off trying to board a plane to England. And then freezing our butts off trying to board a plane to Chicago. Oh the impressions that stick when is twelve. That rock, that cold gray rock of Newfoundland, I nearly wanted to kiss the ground of Chicago, the lights the sounds the – home. I was home with all its raw energy and violence but that desolation of cold was not forgotten. It left an impression. So when I felt compelled to spend money in a used book store because the proprietor tried to help me but couldn’t find what I was looking for – well I thought why not “The Shipping News.”Pulitzer PrizeCanadaNewfoundland. How could I go wrong?So at the end of the novel, feeling raw again because I am a Christian and depressed because the church can’t seem to reflect Christ and it shows up continually in our literature I was out of breath, sad and still glad I read the book. The author’s style, slowed me down – a good thing. Her humor – she had me laughing aloud more than once. The characters, I might be a pottering old fool someday – I hope the characters never leave me. I’d recommend this book.more
Quoyle: A coil of ropeIt took nearly 5 chapters of dogged reading before I realized what a gem of a book I'd found in The Shipping News. The storytelling is subtle while the writing is close-knit. Each sentence paints a tiny picture of Quoyle's metamorphosis.Quoyle is delivered to us as a man with a "great damp loaf of a body" and a "giant's chin." These descriptions become characters unto themselves, tormenting and comforting Quoyle in turns. His hapless forays into life have not been kind but he's more resigned than bitter. He never expected much else. A disastrous marriage, his parents' deaths, and suddenly Quoyle is cut free, alone, the single father of two girls. His options being nonexistent he decides to join his Aunt in a trek to the forgotten family place in Newfoundland where he takes a job writing the Shipping News for a small town newspaper. Things begin to change.My first reaction when I finished this book was "I'm in love! How am I this late to the Annie Proulx party?" The feeling still hasn't worn off. I must, must read everything she's ever written immediately. Or shortly thereafter.more
It was choppy. That writing style. Kind of jarring. And dull. As stories go. Very dull.more
This would be a brilliantly bad beach novel. The reviews on the covers say it all, really - a wonderful portrait of odd but loveable characters in a stark icy nowhereland, described with crisp, sharp writing to match the setting.more
The Shipping News follows the life of Quoyle, an ugly, unskilled slob who is trying to make a name for himself. After his whorish wife, Petal, leaves him and tries to sell their kids to a pornographer, she dies in a car accident. In an attempt to restart his life, he moves to Newfoundland where he meets new people and discovers a new way of life. Over the course of the novel, Quoyle has many struggles, but he is eventually able to rediscover himself and start a new, decent life. Although at times a difficult read due to Proulx’s awkward syntax, the novel, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is great story in the end.more
About three-quarters of the way through this novel, I found myself silently pleading with the author not to let anything bad happen to the characters I had come to know. That’s when I realized that I had also come to care about these characters and their lives.The main character is Quoyle, a big, introverted man who is self-consciously aware of all his faults and failings, and who stumbles his way through life without planning or design. He becomes a newspaperman by happenstance, then falls into a lopsided marriage with a philandering woman who dies in a car accident while in the act of leaving him for another man — but not before she gives him two daughters, whom he loves almost painfully. After his wife’s death, Quoyle allows his only relative, whom he refers to as “the aunt,” to persuade him to move to their long-abandoned family home in Newfoundland.Newfoundland comes across as a bleak, godforsaken place, where drowning accidents and child abuse are commonplace. Storms, winter, unemployment and deep-fried foods plague the people who live there. The house they return to is without electricity or bathrooms, literally bolted to the bare rock. But despite himself, Quoyle makes a home in Newfoundland, and begins to build a life. He lands a job on the local newspaper reporting the shipping news, makes friends and even meets a woman. Through his eyes, we see the good-hearted side of Newfoundland, as well as all the depressing aspects of life there.Proulx tells her story of a quiet man rebuilding his life with warmth and good humor. One particular scene, of a raucous, drunken party in the trailer of Quoyle’s colleague, made me grimace and laugh out loud at the same time. Even though Proulx never writes a complete sentence when a fragment will do (which I found a little annoying), this novel gathered me in and made me care. By the end, I was heartily rooting for Quoyle to find the happiness he didn’t think he deserved.more
This was a story with a very simple plot, but it was so well written it doesn’t matter. It’s about a social outcast looking to overcome past abuse and get a new start. The characters in the book were all very unique and each told stories of their own struggles. The writing style of the book is very different, and took some getting used to, but it worked well with the story. The author’s depiction of the Newfoundland landscape was so brilliantly done that I felt as though I had been there. The life of a small, coastal town was wonderfully captured. For some odd reason I especially loved the chapter headings and pictures of the knots. I can’t wait to finally see the movie now that I’ve read the book. A great read.more
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.more
'I enjoyed Poscards so much I had to read this one and it, also, was absolutely marvelous. A strange beat to her writing and she captures your imagination with wonderful descriptions and dialogue. Bittersweet but great.'more
This was a story with very little plot, but it was so well written I didn't really care. Proulx has a very individual writing style - sort of staccato, descriptions boiled down to the essentials with all the grammatical faffing around removed. Her depiction of the Newfoundland landscape was so brilliantly done that I felt as though I had been there, despite the fact that I never have and probably never will. Humour was in plentiful supply (not least in terms of the characters' names). I loved the account of the party to which only men were invited. Despite the fact that, by definition, Ms Proulx has surely never been to such a party (and neither have I) everything about it was spot on, down to the main character's reaction to the loudness of the music (which "rearranged his atoms and quashed thought"). Just superb.more
The way that the book was written made it hard to get into for me, but I did feel sympathy towards the characters and a certain desire to know what would happen next.more
Proulx is the author of the short story "Brokeback Mountain" which was made into the film of the same name. I read that short story soon after seeing the movie and remember finding it moving. But Proulx might be one of those authors whose extreme styles are more effective (at least for me) at the shorter lengths. I love several short stories by James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway, for instance, but hate the novels by them I've tried. In the case of Proulx, her style quickly wore on me. I'm truly not a Grammar Nazi; fiction is not meant to be an essay. But she uses sentence fragments so frequently she doesn't flow, and boy she piles on the metaphors in her drawn-out descriptions. But the worse part is the protagonist: Quoyle. This is a paragraph of how he's described early on which should give you an idea of Proulx's characterization and style: A great damp loaf of a body. At six he weighed eighty pounds. At sixteen he was buried under a casement of flesh. Head shaped like a crenshaw, no neck, reddish hair ruched back. Features as bunched as kissed fingertips. Eyes the color of plastic. The monstrous chin, a freakish shelf jutting from the lower face.Note the choppy syntax. That could be effective done sparingly but the entire book is written like that. (And er...plastic has a color? Kissed fingertips are bunched? Really?) Quoyle's a lump of a character in every way who has never been able to hold a job long. His wife, Petal Bear, who thankfully is killed off early in the novel, sold their two young girls to a pornographer. (The girls are found before they can be harmed.) The pace is slooooow and about a third of the way I knew I'd had enough. I struggled to get that far. Painful. If you don't love Proulx's style--and I hated it--there's no reason to stay.more
this was a really good book once you waded 1/2 way through, then the pace picked up and the characters became more alive and interesting.more
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