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The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
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The Shipping News (original 1993; edition 1994)

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

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,878175287 (3.86)378
Member:stephmo
Title:The Shipping News
Authors:E. Annie Proulx
Other authors:David Blackwood (Cover artist), Mary Bess Engel (Cover designer)
Info:Scribner (1994), Edition: 1st Touchstone Ed, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:affair, human condition, family, 999 challenge, 101 books by females, listsofbests, ottawa's 100 favourite books, bbc's big read, 2010_75_regular, love, infidelity, friendship, facing fears, secrets, emotional damage, shipping, murder, death of a parent, suicide, rebuilding lives, downs syndrome, death, parent child relationships, trust, self-worth, holding onto the past, letting go, read in 2010

Work details

The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx (Author) (1993)

  1. 20
    The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald (rieja)
  2. 10
    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. 10
    The Custodian of Paradise by Wayne Johnston (sushidog)
  4. 11
    Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion? by Johan Harstad (Othemts)
  5. 00
    Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald (rieja)
  6. 01
    The Republic of Nothing by Lesley Choyce (ShelfMonkey)
  7. 13
    A long way down by Nick Hornby (sombrio)
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» See also 378 mentions

English (166)  Dutch (4)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  Hebrew (1)  German (1)  All languages (174)
Showing 1-5 of 166 (next | show all)
Quoyle is a hapiess, hopeless hack journalist living and working in New York.
When his no-good wife is killed in a spectacular road accident, Quoyle heads
for the land of his forefathers - the remotest corner of far flung Newfoundland.
With "the aunt" and his delinquent daughters - Bunny and Sunshine - in tow, Quoyle
finds himself a part of an unfolding, exhilarating Atlantic drama. The Shipping News is an irresistible comedy of human life and possibility.
  TIISHARED | Jun 23, 2014 |
Original post at Book Rhapsody.

***

Intro

The Shipping News has a movie adaptation. When I first saw the movie poster in the early 2000′s, I wanted to watch it so badly. There’s Kevin Spacey and Julianne Moore! At that time, I didn’t know that it was based on a novel, and for some reason, I was not able to watch it, too.

Maybe because I was destined to read the novel first and download the movie later. Looking back, The Shipping News is probably the start of my addiction to books and my lifetime goal of collecting all the winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The Rhapsody

Quoyle is dumb. Quoyle is stupid. Quoyle was left by his wife. Quoyle does not have any real talent. There he is, the main character of the novel.

But you still root for him. He is like a cousin to you, the cousin who never played pranks on you and who only has good intentions for you.

But he really is stupid. Well, that’s what I remember mostly about him. But don’t get me wrong. He is not a mental retard; he’s just not someone you’d like to have an intellectual conversation with over coffee.

And boy, I am so annoyed with his daughter. He has two, and one of them is named Bunny. Now, who would name a daughter Bunny, except if you are intellectually challenged? Anyway, I am not sure if it is Bunny that exasperated me or the other daughter. That girl is a petulant one sent above from the deepest pits of hell. She is capable of evil, and it shows in her actions. I wouldn’t be surprised if she turns out to be a syndicate queen when she grows up.

But in the novel, there can only be a remote place for things like that. The novel is first set in the suburbs, until Quoyle’s wife left them. Then they move to Canada. Or not. I am not sure. I even think it’s somewhere near Nova Scotia. That’s still Canada, right?

So you get the picture. A rural town filled with winding roads, boats, frozen rivers, boats, icebergs, boats, glacial stuff, boats. And there’s a woman named Wavey, the next love interest of Quoyle. I no longer remember if they ended up together, but this is what I am sure of: Quoyle landed a job as a journalist in the local paper.

The little town didn’t have a lot to report except for a string of vehicular accidents. These accidents are like their politics. The people of the town read it with much interest, or so the local journalists thought. Come to think of it, journalism can shape the way you think, and if you see accident after accident on the papers, then what are the readers inclined to think about?

The novel goes on like that. Quoyle writing articles despite his inability to do so, Quoyle having his own column entitled “The Shipping News” that is about the arrival and departure times of ships in their coastal town, Quoyle sending his daughters to a daycare where Wavey works, and Quoyle trying to build a life in the decrepit, mysterious, and living ancestral house that his line left to him. How he had the idea of getting in there, I no longer recall. I do not even remember how he found out that this living house belongs to his ancestors.

I use the word living here because the house is really alive. Think of a haunted house. There should be ghosts in a haunted house, right? The ghosts can bring a sort of life in the house, but in this novel, the house itself is alive.

That’s not the end of the house affairs yet. The house was transferred by his ancestors from a different place to where it is now. No, it was not deconstructed and reconstructed. It was pulled with ropes and logs, and for what reason, I can barely recall. I think it has something to do with the family being a boon in the society and thrown off by the townspeople.

So in the end, the house self-destructs, someone dies and gets back to life, Quoyle becomes the editor-in-chief, and you close the book and say, “Good job, Quoyle!”

Final Notes

I am particularly fond of this novel because at the beginning of each chapter, there is a description of various types of knots that are integrated into the development of the plot. Slip knots, granny knots, whatnots. Also, when I think of Quoyle, I remember that time in my sophomore year when I was not accepted in the high school publication. I am not saying that I can write better than most people, but I was devastated by it.

Then I switched schools. I made it in my new high school’s publication, won some journalism contests, and became the editor-in-chief after a year.

So you might want to ask, what does this novel imply to me? I think it’s about coming to terms with your past. Quoyle was haunted by the sins of his ancestors, tormented by the pain that her ex-wife wrought on him, reminded of the squalor of his earlier life, and pulled back by his inability at a lot of things. He got over those by moving on, crossing over, and starting anew. The destruction of that ancestral house is the ultimate metaphor for that, and it is also one of my favorites.

Not only that, this novel proves that you don’t have to be a genius to be successful. Well, success is relative. Nevertheless, being happy still does not require a lot of intellectual capacity. ( )
  angusmiranda | Jun 10, 2014 |
Clearly people either hate this book because it has a very gently flowing plot, which is really more of a visit with some people than a story with a traditional plot line, or they absolutely adore it. I'm in the second category. Beautiful writing with brilliant and perceptively-written characters. I will certainly be reading more Annie Proulx. ( )
  Vivl | Apr 25, 2014 |
There are a lot of good things I could say about this book: the sense of a seaside hamlet community, which the author conveys in layers, as she presents everything else; the changing seasons (and living through them); the changing world, for the worse, mainly, but the resilience of those who adapt to it; the exotic and often dangerous realities, in a wild but at the same time amenable place. But above all, the portrait of its characters, a piece at a time, with each given his or her due. ( )
  copyedit52 | Mar 6, 2014 |
I loved the characters right away and, although they went quite haywire, they were people I was familiar with, even though it was Newfoundland. Highly enjoyable read. ( )
  KymmAC | Feb 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 166 (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 (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Proulx, E. AnnieAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alopaeus, MarjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"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."

THE ASHLEY BOOK OF KNOTS
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."


THE ASHLEY BOOK OF KNOTS
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."

THE ASHLEY BOOK OF KNOTS
"Cast Away, to be forced from a ship by a disaster."

THE MARINER'S DICTIONARY
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:42 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Surprising transformations take place when a newspaperman's elderly aunt and two daughters decide to move back to their family home on the coast of Newfoundland.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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