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The Shipping News

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  90,909 ratings  ·  3,376 reviews
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, The Shipping News is a celebration of Annie Proulx's genius for storytelling and her vigorous contribution to the art of the novel.
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 l
Kindle Edition, 354 pages
Published (first published March 2nd 1992)
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Steve Sckenda
Oct 04, 2015 Steve Sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Needing Self-Esteem
Recommended to Steve by: Pulitzer Prize; National Book Award
To prevent slipping, a knot depends on friction, and to provide friction there must be pressure of some sort. --“The Ashley Book of Knots”

It is necessary that someone should be on the side of the defeated. Quoyle is a defeated man, “He knows the taste of brack and seaweed.” Even his name, “Quoyle,” is a mariner’s term for a coil of deck rope to “be walked on." People walk all over Quoyle, a clumsy man whose doughy and weak-chinned face is “camouflaged torment with smiles and silences.”

The epi
This book snuck up on me. Tricky tricky. It started out interesting enough. Proulx's writing style is mesmerizing, almost hypnotic. I found the book initially to be a relaxing solace on my commute home after a busy day of work, soley because of its use of language and setting. But I hated the characters. All of them. Quoyle, a big, damp loaf of a man, as Proulx describes him, is the definition of pathetic. His daughters are brats. And his wife Petal is a two-dimensional device created solely as ...more
My initial review of this book was simply "Bullllshiiit", but, um, perhaps more 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 too...forced. Nothing that occured felt real or believed by the author herself (and it's not that
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 wh
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 Close Range: Brokeback Mountain and Other stories (, which 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 doi
May 01, 2014 Arah-Lynda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Arah-Lynda by: Steve Sckenda
Shelves: top, prize-winners, i-said
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.


Much like that coil of rope, our protagonist, Quoyle, has also been stepped on all his life. 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. Th
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 mos ...more
Annie Proulx exploded onto the literary scene with the publication of her second novel, The Shipping News. It was 1993 and she was 58. No victim of sophomore jinx, The Shipping News gave Annie a double boost: it won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer prize for Fiction - one of just six books picked by both juries, and has subsequently been adapted into a film.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in a mix of small upstate towns, Quoyle is definitely not having the time of his life. Socially ine
At thirty-six, bereft, brimming with grief and thwarted love, Quoyle steered away to Newfoundland, the rock that had generated his ancestors, a place he had never been nor thought to go."

Quoyle lives the life of a sad cliche. His family doesn't like him, his wife has affairs and he's socially awkward. His only thought is for his children, Bunny and Sunshine. When a situation causes them to move from Mockingburg, New York to Newfoundland, Canada, home of Quoyle's ancestors, he finds himself in ov
This is one of the very best novels I've had the chance to read. It's not just that the story is rich in and of itself - and it is - it's that the words themselves are so artfully assembed that they provide layers of undercurrents that add depth and emotion to the narrative. This book reads like a symphony, with many intertwined themes and narratives all woven together into a whole, unified picture.

Proulx writes in choppy short sentecnes. It's akward and clumsy language viewed against the litte
Deborah Ideiosepius
Jan 05, 2013 Deborah Ideiosepius rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Deborah by: Mattie
Shelves: travestys, fiction
Finished. Thank goodness! there should be a way to give negative stars.

This is going to be a review in progress I can see as I wade through the bog of this book;

1. (October 28) A deeply uninteresting, unlikeable boy grows up to be a deeply uninteresting, unlikable man. He marries a nasty piece of work (who is also deeply unlikable) and spits out two children that are exactly the children one goes out of one’s way to avoid at shopping centres.

Parents die, wife dies, aunt shows up out of nowhere a
This is by E. Annie Proulx, so all the characters are named things like "Tobogganlips McCupboardcake" and everyone endures a series of darkly humorous, preciously rendered misfortunes. Though the movie was nothing to write home about either, I actually liked it better than the book, for the enjoyable scenery, half-decent performances, and dearth of skull-shatteringly dippy prose.

It's not like it's the worst thing I've ever read, and I never entertained the thought of quitting mid-book with any
April West
This book gets me every time. It has some of the most brilliant writing I've ever encountered, and I am amazed by the way the characters develop and draw me in. At the beginning of the book, the main character is hit by tragedy so many times in rapid succession that it actually seems funny in a way. Bam! parents dead! Bam! wife run off! Bam! children stolen! Bam! wife dead! And all of this happening to such a lumpen hulking dolt of a man that it is hard to feel any real sympathy, just a dazed an ...more
Won the Pulitzer in ’94, and rightly so – it’s a bleak, stark novel set in a bleak, stark place – Newfoundland – with enough hope and redemption to be realistic without being syrupy. Quoyle is a large mound of a loser human who has been a loser, and abused for it, all his life. After his nymphomaniac whore of a wife is killed in a car crash after selling their two kids, Bunny and Sunshine, to a kiddie pornographer, he starts over again by being dragged off to his ancestral home in Newfoundland w ...more
By my calculation, Annie Proulx owes me close to $20, and several unrecoverable hours of my life. Not only did I buy and read this wretched book, but - inexplicably - I forked out another $7 to go see the equally wretched movie. I suppose I have only myself to blame for the latter exercise in misjudgement, given that I knew in advance how appallingly bleak the book was, and that it involved the wretchedly vile Kevin Spacey.


OK, so Annie P. achieves partial redemption through having writte
First off, just to set you straight, I liked this book. A fine piece of literature for sure: tight, creative writing, deeply human and interesting characters, a stellar setting, and a well-fashioned plot. Yet...something was missing here for me. In the middle of the book I really found myself struggling to care about these characters. Really, and what bugs me is why. Was it the overall depressing tone of the book, the weak-mindedness of some of the characters, the sometime stilted dialog, or som ...more

This is a story about Quoyle. Quoyle is a man that does not think that much of himself and he thinks people do not think that much of him. He thinks he's stupid, that he always does the wrong thing, that he deserves whatever waste is thrown at him. He goes through life like a welcome home mat.

What I love about the story is Quoyle lets the actions of others define who he is, but he is absolutely nothing like the characters whose opinions he allows to define him. And he never realizes it, which is
Jennifer (aka EM)
Bleak but hopeful, mystical and magical – a belated coming-of-age story. Proulx had a hard road to climb with me to get Nfld right, as The Colony of Unrequited Dreams is my gold standard in that regard. But she succeeded magnificently. Treated the place as a character, as it needs to be.

This is an evocative exploration of one man’s inner landscape – as harsh and unknown to him at the start as the one to which he is forced to return. Themes of confronting a familial legacy of shame, abuse and re
Jul 06, 2008 John rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Magaret Atwood fans
Shelves: modern-fiction
This book is so unlike the majority of books that I read that it came as a pleasnt surprise.

I really,really like Margaret Atwood and found more than a passing resembalence to her work in Proulx's writing style.

It came in the form of the vivid descriptions, inward looking/intense characterisations, introspective human feeling and everyday circumstances of highs/lows - despair/elation - the whole gamut of human emotion. This and the Canadian link, of course...

I have never seen the movie [I'm tol
Nov 16, 2008 Rachel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Rachel by: Linda
Shelves: 2-loved-it
It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did I really liked it. Annie Proulx does a fantastic job writing this novel in a style that places you in the heart of cold, fish-stinky Newfoundland. She then fills that land with such a warm, genuine and quirky cast of characters that you have no choice but to warm up to the novel. By the time you finish, her themes and motifs are very obvious, but she develops them so subtly that they are completely believable and not at all forced. To top ...more
Laura Jean
Great book about beginning again after bitter disappointment. In the end, we learn that love doesn't have to hurt to be real.

The author has a very interesting writing style. Took a while for me to get into its rhythm, but I did enjoy it.
Metaphors are one of the ways I judge an author's writing. Annie E. Proulx has some of the worst metaphors I've ever read - and so many of them. They are ridiculous, outré, and, crucially, bear bugger-all relevance to the thing they're about. For example: The ocean twitched like a vast cloth covering snakes. It's so distracting. Why are you making me think about cloth and snakes? This is the freezing cold North Atlantic FFS. How much too-hard can you try?

That sort of rubbish, added to an intenti
Jennifer Jensen (Literally Jen)
The Shipping News has won multiple awards, so lots of people highly regard this book. I, however, did not. It started out interestingly enough, but I quickly wanted to move on to something else. Any excuse I could find not to read this book, I'd take it.

Had it not been for the fact this was a book club assignment, there is absolutely no way I would have finished this book. I did not care for the writing style. The short, stunted sentences often caused me to stumble and I would lose my concentrat
I confess that I've never actually read The Shipping News. I have listened to it, several, several times on cd while driving back and forth between Chapel Hill, NC and Macon, GA. With a protagonist the author describes as "a great, damp loaf of a man," you know you're being set up for an anti-hero kind of story. The thing is, Quoyle does become a hero, in one of the more real, and understated, senses that you can be one--as a father, lover, widower, journalist, human. And I hope I didn't spoil a ...more
michael spencer
Aug 26, 2007 michael spencer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone inductive, character-driven or humbled unto the brink of depression.
This book is for displaying the front cover on one's bookshelf. It is mysterious, an internal maze of intent and with great depth into the nature of conscious experience. Of course, it is true that a book with cold weather settings will sometimes entertain me enough, but the setting is backlight compared to the perceptions and tenderness of character; this is quite simply a masterpiece.

I received this (as I did a number of books for a handful of years) from my sister, who used to be somewhat hig
More of my favorite opening lines:

"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. Hive-spangled, gut roaring with gas and cramp, he survived childhood; at the state university, hand clapped over chin, he camouflaged torment with smiles and silence. Stumbled through his twenties and into this thirties learning to separate his feelings from his life, counting on nothing."

Short of Dickens, never has such a dismal character
Written in the same fierce, spare style as her Wyoming stories, this book has a hundred ways to describe the appearance of the ocean without ever feeling forced or trite. The weatherbeaten sea-dogs of Newfoundland and the grieved and rootless protagonist run up against each other again and again and it seems as though this sweet and hapless man will never find his way here until after the climax of the novel, when suddenly everything fits together in the same simple way that all things Proulx mu ...more
Quoyle is a hack. And not a particularly successful one either. After his aging parents commit a dual suicide, and his unfaithful and nasty wife Pearl takes his two daughters and drops them with some unsavoury characters and after dies in an unfortunate car accident. As his life collapses around him, his aunt suggests that they return to Newfoundland, their ancestral home and where their roots are.

Quoyle and his daughters move into his aunts house, a storm damaged house on Quoyle's Point. He is
"Here is an account of Quoyle, born in Brooklyn and raised in a shuffle of dreary upstate towns." A great, huge, unloved lump of a man in his late thirties, uncomfortable in his own skin, a failure at most things he's attempted in life, recently made a widower by a car accident that claimed the life of his unfaithful wife, leaving him with two young daughters to raise. And to add insult to injury, he's just lost his 'on again/off again' job at the newspaper as well.
His aunt, Agnis Hamm, comes t
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2015 Reading Chal...: The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx 2 10 May 22, 2015 05:28PM  
favorite character? 14 130 Jul 10, 2014 12:49AM  
Fiction Fanatics: December 2013 - The Shipping News 7 39 Dec 15, 2013 10:13AM  
Tackling the Puli...: The Shipping News (Annie Proulx; 1994) 12 54 Sep 12, 2011 01:08AM  
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Also published as E. Annie Proulx
Edna Annie Proulx is an American journalist and author. Her second novel, The Shipping News (1993), won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for fiction in 1994. Her short story "Brokeback Mountain" was adapted as an Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe Award-winning major motion picture released in 2005. Brokeback Mountain received massive c
More about Annie Proulx...

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“We face up to awful things because we can't go around them, or forget them. The sooner you say 'Yes, it happened, and there's nothing I can do about it,' the sooner you can get on with your own life. You've got children to bring up. So you've got to get over it. What we have to get over, somehow we do. Even the worst things.” 87 likes
“And it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain or misery.” 83 likes
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