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The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

The Shipping News (original 1993; edition 1994)

by E. Annie Proulx, Mary Bess Engel (Cover designer), David Blackwood (Cover artist)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,281185280 (3.86)420
  1. 10
    The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald (rieja)
  2. 00
    We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen (Jannes)
    Jannes: Proulx focuses on one particular and personal fate, Jensen writes about a whole town in the voice of a vague, collective "we". The former places her story in modern-day Newfoundland, the later in 19th and early 20th century Denmark. What they have in common is the ever-present sea, its influence and demands, and how the people that relies on if for sustenance has learned to accept its whims and live with the consequences of a life at sea.… (more)
  3. 00
    Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald (rieja)
  4. 00
    The Custodian of Paradise by Wayne Johnston (sushidog)
  5. 22
    A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (sombrio)
  6. 00
    The Republic of Nothing by Lesley Choyce (ShelfMonkey)
  7. 01
    Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion? by Johan Harstad (Othemts)

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» See also 420 mentions

English (176)  Dutch (4)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  Hebrew (1)  German (1)  All languages (184)
Showing 1-5 of 176 (next | show all)
Begins beautifully and sustains it about two-thirds through, but then, as is often the case with novels, the wheels start to rattle as the writer races to resolve things. Characters must reach point b, themes must be brought to a head, conflicts finished, the writer must show that she is Thoughtful, all at the expense of rhythm and beauty. This may be what sets great novelists apart from good ones. Also, the two ending paragraphs are like the moral of a fairy tale, which I don't care for; it reminds me of bad movies--end credits, banal music. So 3.5 stars, but 5 stars for the first bits. ( )
  Michael.Xolotl | Nov 11, 2015 |
This was a definite contender for book of the year for me. I'd seen the film a while back and enjoyed it (Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, Judi Dench.. what's not to love), but the novel was even better than I'd hoped.

Quoyle (known by his surname) is one of life's good guys who's perpetually on the wrong side of lady luck. He missed the queue for good looks, is continually laid off from his job, and eventually winds up marrying the worst kind of woman who grinds her heel on his heart on a daily basis. When she's killed in a road accident (no spoiler - on the book jacket) he takes up his aunt's offer to take his two young daughters back to the family's homeland in Newfoundland for a new start.

This is an incredibly atmospheric book - life on Newfoundland feels so vivid, from the taste of the seafood to the grey winter days, the swelling seas and the camaraderie between the townsfolk who help turn Quoyle's life around. There is enough plot to keep you turning the pages, and yet it's gentle and unrushed, with writing that's made to be savoured.

This is a book that deserves a great review, but I'm totally knackered and incapable of stringing any eloquent sentences together. Just trust me - it's brilliant.

5 stars - a book that truly deserves a future re-read. ( )
2 vote AlisonY | Nov 6, 2015 |
Despite my policy of not abandoning a book which I started, I could not get through this book. I tried reading it then listening to it neither worked. It was so very slow with characters I did not care about. ( )
  AstridG | Oct 1, 2015 |
It took me a while to get into this book. However, my appreciation of Proulx's descriptive metaphors kept me intrigued and the book improved.

Quoyle's cheating wife is killed in a car accident with her lover. He makes the decision to move from New York with his aunt and two young daughters to his family's ancestral home in Newfoundland. With a job at a small town newspaper, the lumpish middle-aged Quoyle becomes immersed in life in the harsh landscape and the fantastically diverse people who make their home there. "These waters, thought Quoyle, haunted by lost ships, fishermen, explorers gurgled down into sea holes as black as a dog's throat" (p. 222). "He came up once last summer, but left after two days. On his way to New Zealand to study some kind of exotic Southern Hemisphere crab" (p. 267). "Was love then like a bag of assorted sweets passed around from which one might choose more than once? Some might sting the tongue, some invoke night perfume. Some had centres as bitter as gall, some blended honey and poison, some were quickly swallowed. And among the common bull's-eye and peppermints a few rare ones; one or two with deadly needles at the heart, another that brought calm and gentle pleasure. Were his fingers closing on that one?" (p. 332). Beautifully written. ( )
  DebbieMcCauley | Sep 29, 2015 |
I was in a period of transition and uncertainty; what to do with my life? I lived in San Diego, had a 15-month old baby. I read this book on my mother's sofa. One line in the book resonated with me--I can barely remember it now, something about how we will always return to our home, the place of our birth. Something like that. I was on the computer a minute later, checking out flights to my hometown in NY. When the family wakes up to their morning routine, I announce that I am moving to NY, and I'm leaving in 9 days. And I did!

I finished the novel, but none of it mattered as much as that one sentence....

Thank you Annie Proulx! I found my life back home, just as the characters in this novel did. ( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 10, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 176 (next | show all)
It has been – astonishingly – fifteen years since I read the novel but its memory is undimmed, its glorious set pieces still vivid before my eyes.
In E. Annie Proulx's vigorous, quirky novel "The Shipping News," set in present-day Newfoundland, there are indeed a lot of drownings. The main characters are plagued by dangerous undercurrents, both in the physical world and in their own minds. But the local color, ribaldry and uncanny sorts of redemption of Ms. Proulx's third book of fiction keep the reader from slipping under, into the murk of loss.

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Proulx, E. Annieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alopaeus, MarjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"In a knot of eight crossings, which is about the average-size knit. there are 256 different 'over-and-under' arrangements possible. . . Make only one change in this 'over and under' sequence and either an entirely different knot is made or no knot at all may result."

Quoyle: A coil of rope

"A Flemish flake is a spiral coil of one layer only. It is made on deck so that it may be walked on if necessary."

In the old days a love-sick sailor might send the object of his affections a length of fishline loosely tied in a true-lover's knot. If the knot as sent back as it came the relationship was static. If the knot returned home snugly drawn up the passion was reciprocated. But if the knot was capsized - tacit advice to ship out.
"The strangle knot will hold a coil well . . . It is first tied loosely and then worked snug."

"Cast Away, to be forced from a ship by a disaster."

For Jon, Gillis and Morgan
First words
Here is an account of a few years in the life of Quoyle, born in Brooklyn and raised in a shuffle of dreary upstate towns.
Walking keeps you smart.
fried bologna isn't bad.
Desire reversed to detestation like a rubber glove turned inside out.
We run a car wreck photo every week, whether we have a car wreck or not. That's our golden rule.
In Wyoming they name girls Skye, in Newfoundland it's Wavey.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
From the get-go, Quoyle is a loser. Not only is he physically unattractive with a "great damp loaf of a body," but he is also not too bright. His father despises him, and his brother, constantly taunts him. He drifts from job to job, never able to keep one for more than a few months. He gets married, only to have his wife sell their two daughters to a child pornographer and leave him. The Shipping News describes Quoyle's psychological and spiritual rebirth. Left with two children to raise after he rescues them, and no job, he returns to Newfoundland, the land of his ancestors. A sometime newspaper reporter, he gets a job reporting on shipping news with a local publication, and becomes a minor celebrity. Gradually he is transformed into a loving father and a valued neighbor.

When Quoyle's two-timing wife meets her just deserts, he retreats with his two daughters to his ancestral home on the starkly beautiful Newfoundland coast, where a rich cast of local characters and family members all play a part in Quoyle's struggle to reclaim his life. As Quoyle confronts his private demons   and the unpredictable forces of nature and society - he begins to see the possibility of love without pain or misery.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0671510053, Paperback)

In this touching and atmospheric novel set among the fishermen of Newfoundland, Proulx tells the story of Quoyle. From all outward appearances, Quoyle 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. Along the way, we get to look in on the maritime beauty of what is probably a disappearing way of life.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:45 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Quoyle returns to his family's longtime home, a small fishing town in Newfoundland with his young daughter. Though Quoyle has had little success thus far in life, his shipping news column in the local newspaper finds an audience, and his experiences in the town begin to change his life.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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