The Shipping News

Proulx, Annie

Book - 1994
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Shipping News
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Anne 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.

Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 1994.
Edition: 1st Touchstone ed.
ISBN: 0671510053
Characteristics: 337 p. ;,22 cm.


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Sep 07, 2014
  • lukasevansherman rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Based on the comments, this is polarizing book. I remember it being a pretty big deal when it came out in 1993, as it won both the Pulitzer and the National Book Award. It's good, if hard to get into and its strengths (and its characters) were pretty superficial. I wasn't a bad read by any means, but I rather indifferent one. A band took their name from the book and it was turned into an unsuccessful movie. Also, you'll learn a lot about knots, whether you want to or "not."

Feb 18, 2014
  • Lanny213 rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

I found this book VERY slow going - took me almost a week to finish and I usually read a book in 2-3 days. Liked that it was most set in Canada and I am looking forward to seeing the movie.

Dec 26, 2013
  • rmbelyea rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

.Wonderful collection of short stories! My book club enjoyed discussing how the stories made us think about being an outsider, the great circle of life and finding hope & forgiveness. Not to mention some unforgettable characters!

Jan 09, 2013

Whoa! I guess KarenW really didn't like this book! It has been on my bookshelf for quite a while and I thought I would get it into the completed after reading all these comments, I'm not sure what to expect! Stay tuned! Started Dec 20.....Dec 24 on page 232 and I am finding it hard to put down...started a bit slow and weird, but kept getting better and better. I'm liking it!......Dec 27, finished it today, and I'm a little sad about that. Found this story "delightful" and I didn't want it to end. I've put the movie on a hold and will be looking forward to watching it......Jan 5, watched the movie, and I must say it was a nice compliment to the book, but if I hadn't read the book, I might have found it boring, or just weird!

Sep 27, 2012
  • KarenW rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

Okay, I don't know why I keep trying to like stuff like this, but I really should stop. And this should be my warning sign. This book is so full of that special dish that so many horrible authors keep serving that I can't believe some readers keep lining up for another helping. It is called GARBAGE! Trite, naval gazing, chest beating, woe-is-me stuff that should be thrown as hard as it can into the trash can.

Jul 04, 2011

I am a fan of quirky characters and unique writing styles. Could not put this book down. I was taken to a new, dangerous, harsh weathered place. I loved how Quoyle started as a pathetic good for nothing blob and ended up finding a place in the world where he could look himself in the mirror.
There were those moments with the children that just broke my heart as they began to understand life and who they were, especially Bunny and her interactions with Wavey.
The descriptions of the world of this particular Newfoundland coast were breath taking, I wanted to be there to see!
I can certainly see why this author and this book are so celebrated and I look forward to reading more by her.

Apr 12, 2011
  • GrumpyDave rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

1993 National Book Award - Fiction

Dec 10, 2010
  • kerfuffle rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Be warned, Proulx has a choppy style to her writing, and I had to push myself to read through the first couple of chapters, then whaM! I did not want to set it down. It's on the sad, slightly dark side, yet I felt good about the story once I'd read it all. So much so I checked into her next book, but the storyline appears to be even gloomier and I'm not sure I can read that. I loved this one though.

Nov 18, 2010
  • Jennmro rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This story was so sad and so very, very good. I loved every word.

Oct 29, 2010
  • Iridollae rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

One of my favourites. The author's writing style is absolutely delicious, probably the main reason why I enjoyed this so much: short, vivid flashes of imagery mixed with a sharp sharp wit. The plot was borderline-absurd and rich with east-coast culture.

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Dec 26, 2013
  • rmbelyea rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

“For if Jack Buggit could escape from the pickle jar, if a bird with a broken neck could fly away, what else might be possible? Water may be older than light, diamonds crack in hot goat's blood, mountaintops give off cold fire, forests appear in mid-ocean, it may happen that a crab is caught with the shadow of a hand on its back, and that the wind be imprisoned in a bit of knotted string. And it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain or misery.”

Oct 29, 2010
  • Iridollae rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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.


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