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The Shipping News

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  130,379 ratings  ·  5,038 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 337 pages
Published 2002 by Scribner Book Company (first published 1993)
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Tony Goriainoff I started reading it a couple of years ago after getting a copy from a local charity. I remember the book being touted as amazing back when it came ou…moreI started reading it a couple of years ago after getting a copy from a local charity. I remember the book being touted as amazing back when it came out. Pulitzer prize winner and all that. I started, then stopped.
The writing was quirky, but I could deal with that, but something wasn't gripping me.
So, a couple of years later I thought I would give it another try. I finished it in about a month. I agree that the book is well written, and there are some interesting passages, but the story is about as interesting in the end as chewed gum. I got the feeling that the author left a lot of characters out in the open. She either didn't know what to do with their stories, or, perhaps, she herself was tired of them and could not be bothered to give them closure.
The aunt, to me the most interesting character, is dealt with in a very odd way. She is an important character for about half the book, then she is shipped out of the plot, only to make a sort of cameo appearance towards the end.
Quayle, who's only interesting feature appears to be the size of his manhood, is as interesting to read about in the beginning, as he is in the end. His journey could have been summarised in a very short short story. As for his quasi-psychic daughter... again, a potential story line which just fades, as do most of the characters in the end.
You reach the end of the book thinking, really? That was your story?
It was like watching a colourful stage set where the actors have few lines, and the decoration is more important that the plot. Still, the language and her writing style are very interesting.

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Jan 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kevin Kuhn
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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 more f ...more
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 live ...more
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Nov 08, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
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 th
Michael Finocchiaro
The Shipping News is a wonderful read. We are introduced to Quoyle and follow him from his life and failed marriage in Mockingburg (!), New York through to his move and settling into Newfoundland with his two daughters, Bunny and Sunshine. There is a nearly Dostoyevski-level of tragedy underpinning the story - sexual assault, perversion, violence - which litters the road Quoyle travels down.

There are a few innovative aspects to the text itself, the names and the grammar. Annie Proulx comes up w
Jim Fonseca
Oct 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A love story of a single father, a newspaper reporter, who returns to Newfoundland to live in an ancestral home and meets a local woman. Everyone in the present is haunted in some way by the victims in the past claimed by nature, usually by the sea. The plot revolves around ordinary characters --- ordinary, quirky Newfies, that is. They are overweight or pock-marked or not quite attractive, in that left-behind kind of way, and they are all damaged in some way, usually by the loss of loved ones t ...more
May 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
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
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Arah-Lynda by: Steve aka Sckenda
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
Jan 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Paul Bryant
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels, abandoned
Probably not a good idea for me since reading convoluted descriptions of the weather is never going to be one of my favourite forms of entertainment and long languid non-stories involving lotsa far-fetched sitcommy eccentric types with daft names all being telegraphed to my brain in a staccato style studded with many outre dialect words that aren’t in big dictionaries so I guess musta bin quarried out of The Dictionary of Newfoundland English by G M Story et al (847 pages, revised edition publis ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The old life was too small to fit anymore.”

I picked up “The Shipping News” recently while I was staying in a house in Nova Scotia that could have easily been the setting for the novel. Perhaps that aided in my enjoyment of the text? One thing it certainly did was reinforce for me how well the author (E. Annie Proulx) captured the setting and atmosphere of Newfoundland. The sense of place in this novel is well done. You feel the environment and Newfoundland in particular.
A criticism of the text
Steven Godin
Thankfully negative reviews are somewhat of a rare commodity for me. In the case of The Shipping News, it's difficult to find any positives, simply down to Proulx's writing style which I never could grasp hold of, along with dialogue that annoyed the hell out of me. The star of the show if there was to be one, is Newfoundland itself, the characters I struggled to feel anything for, even in the more moving moments, I am still left though with a mixed reaction. I wondered what Proulx had against r ...more
Joe Valdez
My introduction to the fiction of Annie Proulx is The Shipping News. Published in 1993, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was one of several literary awards bestowed on this evocatively stark tale of a Statie, his aunt and two young daughters who relocate from New York state to the (fictional) town of Killick-Claw in Newfoundland for a second start on life. Much like Margaret Atwood, Proulx was on trial in my mind throughout her novel, which like Atwood, never ceases to remind the reader that they' ...more
A book about knots. You know, nautical knots, fisherman's knots, each chapter beginning with a sketch of the intricate knot and its name.

And I can only tie my shoes. On a good day.

I don't remember nautical terms. They are lost on me. Always have been. If the ship goes down, it's going down with me.

But I know knots. A knot at the base of my throat, an edgy knot taking over my stomach, a knot where my colon used to be.

And, reading this unnerving masterpiece, you feel the knots. Because disaster
Deborah Ideiosepius
Oct 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Deborah by: Mattie
Shelves: travestys, fiction
This was a review in progress, as I waded 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 and whisks the whole aimless uninteresting lot of them off to a dreary remote end-of-nowher
Nice novel in which it appears that to some extent you can overcome your past.

It's also a nicely constructed piece with this quiet core surrounded by these wild events (the apparent sale of the daughters, the past sexual abuse, the horrors of the ancient ancestors, the murder). However wild the events, crashing and buffeting against the rocky coast it is the quietness that predominates and wins out.

It is the kind of novel that wins prizes, because it is healing book, the past here is full of hor
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
It happens in Newfoundland, a place of water, moisture, and rottenness, of words that travel long distances, a place for people who know everything about boats, cliffs and icebergs.
A place of death of sea.
Quoyle Promontory is the birthplace of Quoyle's father, a diffuse character - where he retires with his two little girl.
The promontory is named by a family that the locals know is cursed.
Quoyle know this, and the hope that his life might be different - fades step by step.
By the way it's
Em Lost In Books
Picked this book for my award winners challenge and solely for this challenge I came to know about this book. I am glad that I put these challenges for me and because of them I am reading all these different books. Some proved to be disaster, others just made me fall in love with themselves. This book is somewhere in between. Neither I hated nor I loved it.

The Shipping News revolve around Quoyle who had a tough childhood and equally tough twenties. After the death of his wife he moved back to Ne
Jul 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
National Book Award--1993
Pulitzer Prize--1994

Many of today's "modern writers" have styles so similar, or maybe a better way to say it, their lack of style makes it hard to distinguish their differences. But there are a few out there that have very distinct writing styles that set them apart, that give them a unique and recognizable identity. Annie Proulx is one of those. Margaret Atwood, Dorothy Allison, and Markus Zusak also come to mind for me.

I've often wondered about Newfoundland, what it's
Matthew Quann
I wanted to start off my Pulitzer Prize Challenge--I'm trying to get in a winner once a month during 2020--with a book I'd been meaning to get to for some time. E. Annie Proulx's The Shipping News is pretty well regarded, but also happens to be about my adopted home province. Amidst a record-breaking and city-closing snow storm I read through the most of this ode to Newfoundland culture and lifestyle. Though I'd really hoped to like or even love this book, it failed to really grab me with its ch ...more
Joy D
Protagonist Quoyle is a kind man born into an unpleasant family. He marries a woman who mistreats him. An unforeseen event leads to relocation to Newfoundland, where Quoyle’s extended family has deep roots going back generations. He works as a reporter, covering the “shipping news.” It is the story of the unraveling of a life and an attempt to put it back together.

Proulx’s writing is rhythmic. She draws vivid pictures of life in Newfoundland – the landscape, the food, and the local customs rela
Apr 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
The blurb:
When Quoyle's two-timing wife meets her just desserts, 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
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian-fiction
4.5 stars rounded down.

I've been getting lucky with my book selections these past many months. I've really liked or absolutely loved every one I've read, maybe I'm just easy to please as a novice reader. As I was reading this book, I knew basically right away (again I must be easy like that) that I'd really like it but at the same time I could see why this book didn't do it for many people. It's a "slow burn" throughout. I've discovered that I love a book like that. A slow burn for me can be co
Raul Bimenyimana
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-writers
Annie Proulx's style of writing calls to mind the old saying of new shoes and how they pinch the feet until the owner gets used to them, or is it the shoes that get used to the owner? In any case, Proulx is an excellent writer, and this story required some patience on my part. At first it seemed as though just as I was getting into the story, it would make a jerk and toss me off my course until at some point the fragments seemed to align themselves and what was the final piece, was a beautiful m ...more
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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

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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.” 135 likes
“Everybody that went away suffered a broken heart. "I'm coming back some day," they all wrote. But never did. The old life was too small to fit anymore.” 102 likes
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