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The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
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's review
Jul 06, 08

it was amazing
bookshelves: modern-fiction
Recommended for: Magaret Atwood fans
Read in April, 2008

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 told that it's simply ok... nothing special], but had always intended to read this Pulitzer Prize winning novel - I am so pleased that I have made the time now and I am disappointed that I did not do so sooner. This, I am sure, will be a future feature on my multiple re-reads shelf.

Quoyle, Bunny, Sunshine, Petal, Agnis Hamm, Tert Card, Wavey Prowse, The Gammy Bird, No Name Cove, Beaufield Nutbeem, Jack Buggitt, Billy Pretty, Bayonet Melville, Grace Moosup and Mavis Bangs... these names alone conjour images of another world... a world of poetry, romanticism and imagination - the names are almost classic-cartoon in their meatiness.

Proulx carried me off to Newfoundland... I felt the isolation, I experienced the cold... I understood the emotions. It was all so skilful and beautifully written - it had me hooked - and it never let go for one second.

It was the description of Quoyle as a coil of rope which was followed with a quote from The Ashley Book of Knots saying
"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." that alerted me that this was something more than just another story.... it was something a lot more than that... it was several layers of many different stories.

There is no major plot in this book - it is forced along by the scenery, the seasons and the stunning-vivid characters and their extraordinary lives.

The ever-present one-line newspaper headline exclamations of Quoyle present us with excellent thought-gaps... apart from all else they are amusing too. "Newspaper reporter seems magnet for dead men!" epitomises the use of these and intonates the lack of seriousness with which Quoyle views himself and reflects how he views his life as a third-rate headline writer.

Your bookshleves are, believe me, incomplete without the inclusion of this book. I borrowed this copy from my local library but I am purchasing a copy tomorrow.... bravo... bravo.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Leslie (new)

Leslie This book is on my to-read shelf.
Maybe by the end of this summer, especially with this resoundingly positive review.


John I promise that you will not be disappointed. I loved this book - it reminded me of a cross between a Margret Atwood novel and a Norman Rockwell painting.... yeah... I know... bizzare... I really can't explain that one... but that's how it made me feel.

I think I might re-read this on holiday too!

My poor wife... there wont be any room for half of her books in the car... I already have a pile of over about 20!


message 3: by Leslie (new)

Leslie I tried one Margaret Atwood and couldn't get involved in it. Hmmm.


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