[Read] ➮ The Shipping News Author Annie Proulx – Uroturk.info
Ah the Shipping News I remember my heart dropping when I read this book the first time I thought, If this is what people are writing, I am no writer This book is revolutionary in it s use of language She punctuates inventively and her punctuation style gives her sentences a strange movement The book moves, it actually moves, as you read it.There are moments of such pain like when Quoyle lies still in his bed as Petal Bear fucks another man in their home and it s not written in a way where you feel pity or anger but you identify, I mean you get still like Quoyle or I didThere is this triplet of sentences where Quoyle realizes Bunny may fall from the ladder she is beginning to climb and when I read it, I felt my stomach drop and had a quick intake of breath but those sentences were non dramatic, not written to scare or startle it wasn t even the sentences that got me like that, it was like this weird pause orchestrated by creative punctuation.Oh I really can t explain itI just think this book is one of the best books I have ever read and by the way, the movie sucked something rancid and you should never see it But read read read this book. So far this is a great read, this book is a little gem Had to get used to the language and the different way of storytelling, but this story, I love it so far Finished it today and what a great book to start 2010 with I loved it Loved the story, the characters, the description of the surroundings and the community, the way it is written, loved everything about it It could have gone on forever for me This is a feel good story, at least that s how I felt it It was on my night desk next to the bed for some time and every page I read before sleep gave me joy Read the most of the book in London pubs A five star, beautiful gem. 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 A Vigorous, Darkly Comic, And At Times Magical Portrait Of The Contemporary North American Family, The Shipping News Shows Why Annie Proulx Is Recognized As One Of The Most Gifted And Original Writers In America Today Like with almost every other Pulitzer darling, we accompany the protagonist for the entire ride, this one is exceptionally literary in that brave, EveryMan type way This the prototype for the ever ambitious, ever elusive Great semi American Novel in which the elements of clever prose, revamped revisited personal histories, of second chances and redemption, are outstandingly clear and pitched at full blast Many novels read like this, and usually the one in that particular year earns itself magnanimous acclaim Yes, it tries to do everything right But why is this not a contemporary classic ahem, Middlesex Because, after all, as the drama becomes elevated, the protagonist becomes somewhat uninteresting As the atmosphere becomes a desolated desperate return to simplicity, the token characters pile on the thesis being that with people around the sadness which is omnipresent is diminished The only way to succeed in life is to partake in it Bottom line.No, this one is not without its problems this is not Graham Greene, it is not Toni Morrison, it is not Geoffrey Eugenides, after all Alas, it suffers from similar ailments shared by other Pulitzer winners it is, at times, a tad too superficial A Visit from the Goon Squad somewhat dull ish, small, insignificantish Breathing Lessons dense American Pastoral or even a little too long, overdone sorry Loneseome Dove it is thoroughly enjoyable, too Which is NEVER a detractor from the overall experience P.S Several surprises await in the last 12 pages those readers who manage to reach the end So GET THERE, people. Quoyle A coil of ropeA Flemish flake is a spiral coil of one layer only.It is made on deck, so that it may beWalked on, if necessary.THE ASHLEY BOOK OF KNOTSMuch like that coil of rope, our protagonist, Quoyle, has also been stepped on all his lifeA 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. He stumbles into the newspaper business through a friend he meets one night in a laundromat in Mockingburg, New York He is not very good at it He also meets Petal Bear, a small woman he yearns for, they share a month of happiness , followed by six years of misery, two children and a multitude of scars, seared into his flesh from her indiscreet, two timing ways Petal Bear does not value Quoyle or his children Alone, without work, without a wife, on the heels of his father s death, he decides to gather his children and follow his Aunt Agnis to his ancestral home on Newfoundland s stark and majestic coast.It is there, working for The Gammy Bird, a small newspaper, covering the shipping news, that Quoyle battles his inner demons and struggles to build a new life for himself and his daughters But Quoyle is a man defeated, a man with no love of self He even considers himself as a headline for one of his stories Stupid Man Does Wrong Thing Once More I wanted so badly for Quoyle to find some gumption, to love himself just a little When an oil tanker docks a Killick Claw, Quoyle writes an article about it Before release, the entire tone of his article is rewritten by the managing editor, only this time Quoyle is incensedThis is a column , bellowed Quoyle You can t change somebody s column, for Christ s sake, because you don t like it Jack asked me to write a column about boats and shipping That means my opinion and description as I see it This he shook the paper against the slab cheeks isn t what I wrote, isn t my opinion, isn t what I seeAt last I was so overcome with sheer joy that I leapt out of my deckchair, threw my arms in the air and let loose a resounding YES okay so my neighbours may think I am a little hinky This is a great story, with a cast of truly colourful characters but if you will bear with me for just a moment, I would like to talk about what this book, wrong or right, said to me.You cannot leave your past behind, no matter where you travel, there too, it is.Everyone is worthy, not all heroes are tall, dark, handsome, beautiful, sexy, confident or comfortable in their own skin.You cannot run, but you can dig deep and you can find a new hope, a new joy in life.Family is defined not only by blood but also by bond, by those who are there, in the dark and the light.These homes of love we build, house many rooms, sanded and painted in the shades and colours of our life, furnished with those moments that, however inconsequential they may seem to others, have in fact, defined us Cover beauty is coveted and exploited provides keys to all the right doors, but it is our inner selves, our own moral code that is the true compass to the coveted life of beauty, peace, happiness and love.I am not going to lie I love the fact that this story unfolds on the stark and beautiful, majestic coast of Newfoundland, a province in the land I call my own.Very rarely do I change a rating on a book once I have set it, but in this case, how can I not Trust me, this story is worthy of every one of those five stars.Finally I would like to thank Steve who wrote an incredible, heartfelt review of this work that put it on my radar. My initial review of this book was simply Bullllshiiit , but, um, perhaps explanation is deserved After a handful of people whose taste I respect raved about this book, I was looking forward to it, and got to page 180 or so before finally admitting This feels like a chore and giving it away and I rarely leave books unfinished.What got to me about this book was mainly Proulx s style was tooforced Nothing that occured felt real or believed by the author herself and it s not that I demand realism One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of my favorites It s that I felt like I could see the mechanisms behind all of her tricks the anecdotes that characters told felt like ideas Proulx kept on a notepad before compiling them together for this novel It read like the final project from a brilliant student finishing a course on creative writing I m not saying Proulx isn t a good writer but I don t see her as a storyteller. This is my first Proulx, so I didn t know if the unusual writing style is typical, or specially chosen for this particular story I hope it s the latter, as it works very well Update I ve now read the collection, Close Range Brokeback Mountain and Other stories, which I reviewed HERE Those stories use similar language, but somewhat toned down.It covers a couple of years plus some backstory in the life of thirty something Quoyle a big, lonely, awkward and unattractive man, always having or doing the wrong thing He is a not very successful journalist in New York, who ends up moving, with his young daughters Bunny and Sunshine and aunt, to a small, somewhat inbred, community in Newfoundland where the aunt and his late father grew up Somehow Proulx keeps the reader on the fence he isn t especially lovable, and yet he elicits sympathy than mockery in this reader.I think one weakness is that the mother of the girls is too horrible, and the manner of her departure from their lives stretched my credulity somewhat LANGUAGEThe narrative style is the first thing to hit It is very distinctive, continues throughout the book, and could be infuriating, though I didn t find it so It is telegraphic and observational, reflecting Quoyle s job There are staccato sentence fragments, and some overworked analogies, some of which are wonderfully vivid, and a few of which are laughably awful Grammar sticklers may struggle to enjoy this book, but it s their loss context is all, and in this context, I think it works If I were as clever and witty as some of my GR friends you know who you are , I would have written this review in the style of the book.Anyway, some typical examples This is the entire opening paragraph of a chapter The aunt in her woolen coat when Quoyle came into the motel room Tin profile with a glass eye A bundle on the floor under the window Wrapped in a bed sheet, tied with net twine Another whole paragraph Near the window a man listened to a radio His buttery hair swept behind ears Eyes pinched close, a mustache A packet of imported dates on his desk He stood up to shake Quoyle s hand Gangled Plaid bow tie and ratty pullover The British accent strained through his splayed nose Analogies eyes the color of plastic the sullen bay rubbed with thumbs of fog On the horizon icebergs like white prisons The immense blue fabric of the sea, rumpled and creased parenthesis around her mouth set like clamps Impossible to know if she was listening to Nutbeem or flying over the Himalayas In a way he could not explain she seized his attention because she seemed sprung from wet stones, the stench of fish and tide eyes like a thorn bush, stabbing everything at once The ghost of his wife, Petal s essence riding under his skin like an injected vaccine against the plague of love Fingernails like the bowls of souvenir spoons That s the whole sentence THE TOWN AND COMMUNITYAspects of the town and its characters remind me of David Lynch s 1980s TV series Twin Peaks strange characters, often with impairments of mind, body or emotions, slightly strange names, odd superstitions, and dark secrets murder, incest, rape, insurance fraud.The town of Killick Claw isn t prosperous, and the environment is still harsh, but it s better than when the aunt grew up there The forces of fate weakened by unemployment insurance, a flaring hope in offshore oil money The Gammy Bird is the local paper, and it s like no other lots of adverts many of them fake , deliberate typos and Malapropisms, libelous gossip including a regular catalogue of sex abuse cases , shipping news and we run a front page photo of a car wreck every week, whether we have a wreck or not Poor Quoyle is bemused and has the uneasy and familiar feeling of standing on a playground watching others play games whose rules he didn t know THEMESKnots are the most obvious one Each chapter opens with a quotation pertinent to what it contains, and many are from Ashley Book of Knots, which Proulx found second hand, and gave her the inspiration and structure she sought Knots feature in the plot metaphorically in terms of being bound or adrift , in a literal and superstitious sense Rope can be wound and knotted to make good a wound or separation We also learn that Quoyle s name means coil of rope , and I suppose he is pretty tightly coiled for the first half of the book.Shipping is obvious, too, not just from the title, but because Quoyle ends up writing the eponymous shipping news in the local paper, in a community where everyone needs a boat Most of the introductory quotes that are not from Ashley Book of Knots are from a Mariner s Dictionary I confess there were times when the quantity and level of detail slightly exceeded my interest, but I m glad I stuck with it.The book is riddled with pain, rejection, estrangement and mentions of abusive relationships never graphic many are haunted by ghosts of past events and relationships gone wrong But although it is sometimes bleak, it is rarely depressing, and sometimes it s funny Even close and fond relationships often have an element of awkwardness and distance for instance, Quoyle always refers to the aunt , rather than my aunt Even after living with her for a while, It came to him he knew nearly nothing of the aunt s life And hadn t missed the knowledge Ultimately, it s at least as much about re birth and healing as death and doom One character slowly realises it may be possible to recover from a broken relationship was love then like a bag of assorted sweets passed around from which one might choose than once OTHER MISCELLANEOUS QUOTATIONS a failure of normal appearance if you can t even achieve that, what hope is there believed in silent suffering, didn t see that it goaded In a shop, the man s fingers dropped cold dimes fog shuddered against their faces the house was garlanded with wind In such a harsh environment, The wood, hardened by time and corroding weather, clenched the nails fast a few torn pieces of early morning cloud the shape and color of salmon fillets I think I d prefer that one without the fish the woman in the perpetual freeze of sorrow, afloat on the rise and fall of tattered billows a babysitter doing overtime in a trance of electronic color and simulated life, smoking cigarettes and not wondering The floor around her strewn with hairless dolls From The Ashley Book of Knots To prevent slipping, a knot depends on friction, and to provide friction there must be pressure of some sort. You know you re in trouble when you pan a Pulitzer prize winner, but pan I must This book bored me to tears Perpetual motion and its status as currently reading on Goodreads together got me through it I didn t care what happened to whom or how it would end, I just wanted it over Amazing the things that passed for excitement and were given excessive air time in this novel an incredibly detailed rendition of the kids Christmas pageant knitting the uneventful daily commute and various mostly silent car rides Enough to make you want to shout FIRE and see if any of these characters does anything but look around slowly, gather up his belongings carefully and think about that phone call he wasn t now going to get to make about that boat motor Sheesh Then when something interesting was happening, or happened before but was just coming up in conversation, nothing much is made of it It s all brushed under the rug as not being worthy of the words it would have taken to adequately describe I don t give a rat s a about the detailed description of the animal paintings on the children s cocoa mugs, but I would have liked to have heard how, exactly, Mrs Yark managed to rescue them from the total destruction of her house and her entire town And the names nearly every one of them strange, and to me irksome I couldn t decide through the entire book how to pronounce Quoyle with a hard C or with a Kw Wavey reminded me of Wavy Gravy Petal Marty for a girl Beety Last names often used alone were bizarre as well Nutbeem Pretty Quoyle double whammy, first and last Buggit One review called the book atmospheric I ll give it that, if by Atmospheric they mean cold pea soup, no crackers than Middle Earth with Orlando Bloom Another this one on the back of the book , a lyric page turner Whaaaa Enough, glad its done it drove me nuts Good thing Proulx s Brokeback Mountain is a short story, because I still do want to read that. The Shipping News is E Annie Proulx s second novel, published back in 1993 The book won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award She has a unique voice and her command of language is impressive The strength of this book is her prose and strong sense of place She writes in short staccato sentences, sometimes even using incomplete phrases, but with such inventive and fitting language She seems to have a vast vocabulary but uses rare words sparingly Her unpretentious talent is from finding creative uses of everyday words This talent is fitting for a story that largely takes place in a sparse, inhospitable place, with simple characters and results in real depth underneath these humble characters and locals.The story follows Quoyle, a hulk of a man, who s life begins with dysfunction and tragedy He is a man adrift in upstate New York, deadened from abuse and ill treatment The only positive thing he receives from his early life and broken marriage to an unfaithful and dreadful wife, is two daughters An Aunt, Angis Hamm, convinces Quoyle to return to his ancestral home in Newfoundland where he finds work on the local newspaper This is where the story really finds solid ground with Proulx deftly describing the local culture, language, and harsh climate of Newfoundland If there is a weakness in this book, it s that the striking language, and intriguing side observations tended to distract me from the story line There were moments where I became lost in the story and needing to backtrack or accept that I was lost for a bit, until I found enough clues to navigate back to familiar waters While several key characters were fully formed, many of the secondary characters were one dimensional and never took shape in my mind However, the strength of the prose and the rich setting were enough to keep me engaged throughout the entire story There was just enough struggle and heartbreak to drive the story and we see real change in Quoyle I finished The Shipping News feeling that Proulx is a better writer than character builder and story teller But I still believe she s a talent and this is an important work There is such great connection between her language skills and the setting and people of this book The desolate location, angry ocean, and gritty town feel like the best, most recognizable character in the book, if that makes sense Worthy of its acclaim and awards, I give it four and a half stars, rounded to five An artistic tale of small triumphs and personal growth perched in the richly layered backdrop of a seaside northern town. During the years that I was the manager of a business, I had the wonderful good fortune to have on staff many people originally from Newfoundland One aspect that I found fascinating is the similarities between that relatively small rock and my holiday in southwest England many years ago In England, I noticed that accents and the way certain things were said changed about every five miles The same is true with Newfoundland Definitions and phrases are different depending on where people lived The most interesting part is that even though they would use different terms for the same things, they could still understand each other Well, it s all English after all.This story follows a family from New York to Newfoundland where Quoyle s family is from originally His Aunt travels with the family and is looking forward to a new start with Quoyle and his two daughters in the place she had left behind nearly 50 years before.The writing is very different and interesting While they are in their small town in New York, the sentences are terse, choppy very few articles and no conjunctions Tight, compressed sentences that reflected their tight, compressed existence.When they arrive at their destination, everything changes the sentences gradually grow and expand There are poetic turns of phrase mingled with the mangled English of the Newfoundlanders Quoyle, a would be journalist starts to turn out interesting articles for the newspaper whose owner still goes out fishing whenever he can.I was enthralled with the people I met while reading and when this family saga ended of loves lost and found of careers begun, stalled, and begun again of friendships and warmth and caring of dark times and sad times and cruel times and joyful times when it all came to an end, I felt I would give anything for a few like 10 or 20 chapters, even though the ending is perfect.This novel won several prizes, including both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize It is always a pleasure to me when a book I enjoy so much is given accolades and recognition, and this one is a perfect example.