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5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult at first, but good News after all
E. Annie Proulx's "The Shipping News" is a great novel. However, it is not recommended to everybody. It sounds like a paradox, but it is true. To begin with, it is not an easy read. It takes time and patience, but it is worthwhile. The action is very slow and interior, besides much happens outside the characters, the main action is with their feelings and what goes inside...
Published on June 13 2004 by A. T. A. Oliveira

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3.0 out of 5 stars I'm a bit puzzled by all the hype
Because of circumstances beyond my control (trapped in one room on a 90 degree night, a room with a malfunctioning air conditioner), I read this book in one sitting. Even so, I don't think the heat addled my brain - or my viewpoint.
The book was a slow read. It focused on one man, Quoyle, who has had more than his fair share of hard luck. His unfaithful wife, a...
Published on June 5 2002 by K. Corn


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4.0 out of 5 stars Arr - A Fine Book, Jan. 23 2007
This review is from: The Shipping News (Paperback)
First published in 1993, "The Shipping News" is Anne Proulx's second novel. It went on to win a list of prizes, including the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Quoyle isn't exactly the typical hero : although a good, kind-hearted man, he has little faith in himself and his self-confidence is non-existent. Physically, he's a large, red-haired man, with pale eyes, an over-sized chin and no neck. He has little in common with his family : his father is a genuinely obnoxious, self-obsessed bully with no obvious redeeming qualities while his brother is a self-centred, poisonous rat. After stumbling from one trade to another, Quoyle more or less settles on journalism as a career - starting out with the Mockingburg Reporter. He later meets and marries Petal Bear. (Despite his somewhat unorthodox appearance, Quoyle is as prodigious downstairs as he is in the chin department). Initially, things go well : their first month together is genuinely happy, but the following six years bring Quoyle two daughters and plenty of misery. Although Petal has a great interest in sex, she tends to pursue that interest with people who aren't her husband...

Things change dramatically for Quoyle in his mid-thirties. Following the death of his parents in a suicide pact, he meets an aged aunt (Agnis Hamm) for the first time. Although unable to attend the funeral, she arranges to come down and collect his father's ashes. However, by the time she arrives, Quoyle is also a widower : Petal dies in a car accident that also takes the life of one of her many boyfriends. Shortly before running off, Petal had also sold their daughters to a very dodgy photographer for $[...]...fortunately, the police managed to arrive at the photographer's apartment before anything to questionable had happened. Having lost his job - leaving nothing for him in Mockingburg - Aunt Agnis suggests moving to the ancestral Quoyle homestead in Newfoundland. Quoyle, Agnis and the two daughters set off for Quoyle point and, although in need of some repair, the old house is still standing. There's also the promise of a new job : writing the shipping news for the Gammy Bird, the newspaper based in the neighbouring town.

This is a book I'd put off reading for a while. Having won, among other prizes, the Pulitzer I was expecting a `challenging' book without a great deal of humour. I couldn't have been more wrong : the book is very easily read and - while it isn't always cheerful - there is plenty of humour in it. Aunt Agnis is a great character - I was particularly impressed how she dealt with her brother's ashes ! Quoyle has a slight tendency to think in headlines, especially when he feels he's somehow said or done something wrong. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult at first, but good News after all, June 13 2004
This review is from: The Shipping News (Paperback)
E. Annie Proulx's "The Shipping News" is a great novel. However, it is not recommended to everybody. It sounds like a paradox, but it is true. To begin with, it is not an easy read. It takes time and patience, but it is worthwhile. The action is very slow and interior, besides much happens outside the characters, the main action is with their feelings and what goes inside their minds and hearts. Thus this is not the kind of novel that appeals to those used to fast and easy books. Moreover, this is a very intellectual material and requires a lot of references and thinking from the reader.
Quoyle is a thirty-six years old who has devoted his life to his wife and children. He hasn't accomplished much, but he's fine with what they have. However his wife is not happy with this life. She sells their daughters and while is running away she dies. This is falls like a bomb in Quoyle's life --disturbing his peaceful routine.
In order to restore the peace, he moves to his ancestors' house in an isolated and cold town. There, along with his aunt, he intends to bring his life back to place. With a new job and meeting an interesting widow, Quoyle realizes that life is good, but he still has some ghosts from the past haunting him.
"The Shipping News" is a novel fulfilled with metaphors. Everything has more than its first meaning. Quoyle is not only the name of the protagonist, but also something related to ships --and it will be through the shipping news that our protagonist will find his place in the world.
Another thing is a special touch in the novel is the quotes from "The Ashley Book of Knots', written by Clifford W. Ashley, or from "The Mariner's Dictionary". They are nice and give the insights on what the chapter will be about --another device related to the use of metaphors--, plus there are illustration of these knots which are very well done and even cute.
The movie version, directed by Lasse Hallström is a great and underrated film. More than being faithful to the novel, it makes justice to the spirit of the story. It is perfect to take the audience into Quoyle's world. Both movie and book are highly recommended, but only to specific audiences. My suggestion is, if you want to read the book the effort is worthwhile --it is diffcult, but reawarding--, however if you feel this is not the book for you, do not force yourself to read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Funny!, March 7 2004
By 
Ratmammy "The Ratmammy" (Ratmammy's Town, CA USA) - See all my reviews
THE SHIPPING NEWS by E. Annie Proulx
The winner of the 1994 Pulitzer for Fiction, THE SHIPPING NEWS is a story that stands out and will be remembered in this reviewer's mind as something that cannot be imitated or copied. Annie Proulx created a set of unique and quirky characters and fit them into the setting that is the cold north of Newfoundland, centering on the sorry life of one man named Quoyle. His life changes when he moves himself and his two young daughters from Brooklyn to the land that was home to his ancestors. His memories of his own immediate family are not happy ones. But family ties are strong.
Life for Quoyle was never good. He never heard a loving word from his parents or brother. As an adult, life was not great either. He goes from job to job, doesn't have many friends, and lives the life of an outcast. One day he meets a man named Partridge at the local Laundromat, and the two become fast friends, despite their differences in background. When Quoyle is unemployed once again, Partridge helps him get a job at a local newspaper where he also happens to work, and soon Quoyle is working semi-regularly for this newspaper, but isn't doing that much better. He's not "getting it" and is not what one calls a great asset to the company. He gets fired and rehired seasonally, and then Partridge and wife Mercalia announce they are moving to California. Quoyle feels his life is about to end, his only friends leaving to move across the country.
Then, Quoyle meets Petal in a bar. Their relationship starts off on the right foot, but soon they are married and things fall apart fast. He now has a wife that cheats on him openly, a wife he loves with a passion but Petal looks down upon him with disdain. The more he loves her, the more she stays away, flaunting her lovers in his face. And now with two children, Quoyle rarely sees Petal at all. A few years of unhappy living, and he receives word from his father that both parents are on their last legs. With the death of both mother and father, and a brother that doesn't seem to care, it is the last straw when Quoyle finds out that his wife has taken off with the kids. Petal's car is in an accident, the children are missing, and his wife is dead. Quoyle is beside himself, and the last thing he wanted to hear was that the children had been sold to some man. What else could go wrong in his life?
Amazingly enough, this all happens within the first 26 pages of the book. Quoyle soon finds his two daughters, and is now on his way to Newfoundland with them and his father's sister Agnis and her dog Warren. The life they lead in his family homeland is quite a difference from what they experienced in New York. It's rougher, tougher, but yet Quoyle adapts. With the help of Partridge, Quoyle is hired by the local paper THE GAMMY BIRD and as the reader discovers, Quoyle transforms from a pathetic loser to someone that has merit and credibility. And he also finds love.
THE SHIPPING NEWS was a somewhat funny look at a man who needed just a little push (or a big boost) in the right direction to get his life on track. Written in a style that may put off some readers, this novel was enjoyable and the story always kept this reader wanting to read more. It's a story of love, life, and the need to be loved back, all told through the story of Quoyle. The interesting characters throughout the book enhance his story, and one comes to love each one. This reviewer highly recommends THE SHIPPING NEWS but with a word of caution: although it can be a fast read, one needs to adjust to the style of writing that Proulx uses to tell this tale.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, Jan. 16 2004
By 
Maine-iac "Laurie" (Maine, United States) - See all my reviews
Annie's Proulx's writing about Newfoundland seems right on target. Being near the Canadian border, I sometimes hear stories or anecdotes of life in Newfoundland and she takes you right to the heart of the people and way of life there. The descritions of the ancestors who inhabited this vast, isolated island ring true. Her character development is sufficient without wallowing in a lot of detail. We know her characters, care about them and relate to them. Proulx's description of the landscape made me feel as though I were there on the fog shrouded shores, listening to distant foghorns and awaiting a far off ship to appear through the mist. She quite simply captures the simplicity of life and the complication as well, as relates to the hardship of living in such a place.
Newfoundland is different, but you get a sense of having been there or wanting to be there; despite even the incestousness that permeates this place. It is though it awakens some inner thirst to be part of the population of Krillick Cove. I wish the story had gone one further. Though I'm not sure if a sequel could/would do this work justice, I would certainly read it. I was entralled with Newfoundland and her people. The scenery Annie Proulx painted in my mind was breathtaking. I enjoyed this book tremendously; as well as some written by the masters. Proulx's book is definitely on the same playing field with the greats.
As an afterthought -- before reading this book, I checked out the reviews here at this Amazon website. One review noted that the names of the characters sounded silly or contrived. I beg to differ -- they added color and connection to the characters and certainly did not detract from my appreciation of this story. The names befitted the people. Wonderful read! Don't miss it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars If you don�t know how to tie any knots, tie many., Sept. 10 2003
By 
S. A. Cartwright "Stu Cartwright" (Wayland, MA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Shipping News: A Novel (Hardcover)
Omaloor Bay, B. Beaufield Nutbeam, Quoyle, Billy Pretty, Killick-Claw, Capsize Cove, Flour-Sack Cove, Bayonet and Silver Melville, Misky Bay, Jack Buggit, Tertius Card, Beety, Flying Squid Gift & Lunchstop, Gaze Island, Mavis Bangs, The Gammy Bird.
If the cover art depicting a house being towed along the ice doesn't alert you that this might be an imaginative tale, these proper names that author E. Annie Proulx chooses signal a creatively fecund mind. What on earth kind-of-place must Newfoundland be?
The hapless newsman Quoyle leaves behind a tragic and unfulfilled life in upstate New York, and with a domineering, secretive aunt, steers his way to ancestral stomping grounds on the shores of Newfoundland. Here the quirky Quoyle fits right into a community of goodhearted fisherman, boatbuilders, carpenters, and assorted oddballs. Newfoundland provides for Quoyle, a new found life. Over the course of a year, he finds acceptance and vibrancy in a new community for his family. As juxtaposition, Quoyle's good friend, Partridge, seemingly a guy with all the luck, starts up his new life in Los Angeles, a material world of electronics and backyard barbeques that couldn't seem more foreign to Newfoundland. And ultimately less promising.
Proulx prefaces each chapter with a drawing or quote from the Ashley Book of Knots, (by Clifford Ashley 1944). The drawings are detailed and correct, and the maxims preface each chapter in an interesting and fitting way. Perhaps as quick a read as you'll ever have through 337 pages, (and it could have gone much longer), The Shipping News is a flavorful work of Maritimes dialect, fanciful storytelling and hope for the downtrodden everyman.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Shipping News, July 23 2003
By 
mer935 (Pittsburgh, PA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Shipping News (Paperback)
Large and awkward, Quoyle struggles through young adulthood, unsuccessfully battling feelings of inadequacy in every area of his life. Following a domestic tragedy which brings his uselessness and submissiveness to the forefront, Quoyle gathers his two young daughters and joins his aunt for a relocation to the land of their ancestors, Newfoundland.
The Shipping News is an entertaining tale, full of emotion. Written in short chapters, the book reads as a series of interlocking and continuing stories, involving many intriguing characters. The author uses quotes and illustrations from the Ashley Book of Knots to open each chapter, fitting with the theme, which adds another dimension to the book.
Set mostly in Newfoundland, The Shipping News brings to life the people and landscape of the northern Canadian communities along the ocean. The author constantly uses sentence fragments to bring forth sensations and perceptions in a brisk manner, which I found to be annoying after some time. However, the crisp style does suit the tone of the the environment and people contained in the story.
Another point that comes to my mind is the idea that Quoyle needed to move to the semi-wilderness to grow and reach his potential as a person. The novel portrays rural dwellers as essentially good and hardworking, while city dwellers are generally corrupt and unsatisfied with their lives. Of course, the myth of the wilderness as pure and full of redemption is a powerful and ongoing American ideal, which doesn't necessarily hold up in real life.
Overall, The Shipping News is an interesting novel and a good read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Book..., May 22 2003
This review is from: The Shipping News (Paperback)
In The Shipping News Annie Proulx tells the fascinating tale of love. Obese double chinned Quoyle has never, from the moment of his birth just off-shore off the American coast, experienced happiness. He lives, but only in sub reality, engrossed in a world of torture, where he is only a disposable tool.
But suddenly he is freed of his abusers and exploiters in a flurry as his wife dies in a car crash, parents leave his world and the Mockingbird newspaper fires him. Quoyle's first instinct is still to run, but his aunt steps in, recuperates his children and as savior of his life carries him to the land of his heritage, Newfoundland. Now aunt and nephew are set in a barren land to claim two lives that have never before existed.
Telling the story of the caricatures which are scorned by society, lives missing and incomplete Proulx brings life to these dummies. A marvelous book, winner of a Pulitzer Prize, The Shipping News zooms through a life, filling us with philosophical inspiration.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Book..., May 22 2003
This review is from: The Shipping News (Paperback)
In The Shipping News Annie Proulx tells the fascinating tale of love. Obese double chinned Quoyle has never, from the moment of his birth just off-shore off the American coast, experienced happiness. He lives, but only in sub reality, engrossed in a world of torture, where he is only a disposable tool.
But suddenly he is freed of his abusers and exploiters in a flurry as his wife dies in a car crash, parents leave his world and the Mockingbird newspaper fires him. Quoyleï¿s first instinct is still to run, but his aunt steps in, recuperates his children and as savior of his life carries him to the land of his heritage, Newfoundland. Now aunt and nephew are set in a barren land to claim two lives that have never before existed.
Telling the story of the caricatures which are scorned by society, lives missing and incomplete Proulx brings life to these dummies. A marvelous book, winner of a Pulitzer Prize, The Shipping News zooms through a life, filling us with philosophical inspiration.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well-Deserved Pulitzer Winner, April 21 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Shipping News (Paperback)
The first time I tried to read this book, it was a little hard to get into. The second time, I read all the way through in just a couple of days.
Proulx's descriptions of the Newfoundland scenery and fishing made me want to visit just to see the beauty. Her love of the land comes through in her characters' attachment to the land. The place we come from makes a profound difference in our identity. In order to get a full picture of our identity we must explore that aspect of ourselves. This is a common theme in postmodern literature, but Proulx puts a different twist on the theme by choosing to write about Newfoundland--not a typical place for average people to be exploring their roots. By choosing a land that means a lot to her, she opens the way for others to connect with their own little pocket of the world.
The importance of place is evident in Quoyle's transformation from a quiet, useless, bumbling fool into a competant, strong, admirable character. In the beginning, before he goes back to Newfoundland, you can see indications that he could become strong. He is a devoted friend, father, and even husband in the face of his wife's infidelity. When he moves back to his birthplace and connects with his past, his strength becomes more active. He is not only able to overcome his own past, but he is also able to be a good father and to help Wavey to heal from her past.
I strongly disagree with the reviewers that say this book does not have a good story. I was drawn in by the events in Killick-Claw. I did not find the sentance fragments distracting in the least. They created a great sense of character--especially for a simple character like Quoyle. This book is a masterpiece.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Immense Insight and Rich Color, March 17 2003
By 
Todd Shyres (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Shipping News (Paperback)
First of all, I don't think that a review should "give" the book away. This review should just give you an idea of how good this story is.
The Shipping News was recommended to me by a friend with a taste for the unusual. This was certainly fitting. This book is really well written as the story is immensely colorful and yet dreary at the same time. Through the use of picturesque metaphors Annie Proulx really draws up our imagination to help us see the world in Newfoundland through the eyes of a nieve 36 year old man growing up with his 2 young daughters.
Most of the world he sees is a grey, cold waterfront home to some strange and all-to-real characters. He watches them living their home-town lives from behind his desk and camera; and slowly finds himself brought into the picture.
The author desribes everything with such colorful detail that you can't help but picture the beauty of the writing in your mind...even when she is simply describing a red sweater.
One interesting aspect of the book is that each chapter begins with an insightful quote from The Ashley Book of Knots or the Mariner's Dictionary. I recommend you re-read this quote at the end of each chapter to see how foretelling they really are. This is just one part of the uniqueness of the story.
Overall, this is well thought-through and richly written book. The details are really what make this book so fascinating. You get a real sense of regular people bracing their homes and lives against the oncoming windy storms...as well as being able to taste homemade jelly drapped over burnt toast with a side of fried bologna.
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