Armand's Reviews > The Shipping News

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
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's review
Jan 21, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: genre-mod-lit-fic, genre-modern-classic, read-2011, read-me-again, read-2016
Read 3 times. Last read April 24, 2011.

Reread in 2016. After 5 years, it's amazing how much of this book I had forgotten. Having said that, I was so happy to read this book again. Prouxl's writing is dense, stylized, and poetic, so even if you know the plot, it's a pleasure to revisit.

Original review is far down below.

Some notes on my 2016 reread:

I decided I would try rereading books in 2016. I started by trying to revisit The Dresden Files, a pulp action urban fantasy series that I enjoy, but I only made it halfway through the first book before I called it quits. Despite having enjoyed the series, it just did not grab me in the way I had hoped. So... I began to think that maybe I am not a "reread" person. (Hang in there! This review really is about The Shipping News and not about the Dresden Files. I promise!)

However, I am also very aware of the importance of language, prose and style. A big reason I was not compelled to reread the Dresden Files books is because the author, Jim Butcher, has a rather pedestrian writing style and that his books are mostly about plot twists and pulp action (and sex). So, I decided that my next reread would be The Shipping News, and that one really paid off.

So what was the difference? Mostly it was in the writing. In the case of both books, I already knew what was going to happen, but The Shipping News is handsomely written. It is tough, smart, regional, and real. Prouxl uses writing itself, structure, cadence and description, to create a poetry of sorts. She gives the novel a voice. As with all great novels, it's more than a bundle of words telling a story, it's a cadence, almost songlike, and the delivery is important.

Prouxl examines nature, and economics, regionalism, and the tough, twisted old clans of the far North. Newfoundland, a place where ice becomes water becomes water vapor and it twists all together, to present a glorious gray wall to the world. Newfoundland, where the fishing industry has died and left little to take its place, leaving a wake of poverty and desperation, killing the old ways of life and sending her children to the big cities where things are easier.

The characters (like Quoyle) are real and driven by complicated, everyday choices. In a way, they are lost as anyone is. They have no special destiny. They are not heroes, although they may embody a heroic nature. There are so many ways to connect to them and their lives as they deal with work, family, money, and life generally.

Truly and awesome book.

Original review:

At it's core, this is a novel of self-discovery, but it resists being sappy or preachy. Great characters and plotting throughout. My only quibble is that some of the writing is heavily stylized in a sort of minimalist manner, but that's just a quibble. I really loved Quoyle's story, the descriptions of the land and sea, most of the writing and the well-earned ending.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
Finished Reading
January 21, 2011 – Shelved
April 7, 2011 –
page 10
April 8, 2011 –
page 45
April 11, 2011 –
page 55
April 12, 2011 –
page 125
April 13, 2011 –
page 150
April 14, 2011 –
page 180
April 15, 2011 –
page 205
April 18, 2011 –
page 230
April 20, 2011 –
page 275
April 21, 2011 –
page 300
April 22, 2011 –
page 325
Started Reading
April 24, 2011 – Shelved as: genre-mod-lit-fic
April 24, 2011 – Shelved as: genre-modern-classic
April 24, 2011 – Shelved as: read-2011
April 24, 2011 – Finished Reading
May 27, 2011 – Shelved as: read-me-again
January 26, 2016 –
page 7
February 3, 2016 –
page 90
March 10, 2016 – Shelved as: read-2016

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Aniesa I read this after you recommended it to me a couple of years ago. It is so good. Do you have any other fave Annie Proulx novels? I like her writing and thought I would try some more.

Armand Aniesa wrote: "I read this after you recommended it to me a couple of years ago. It is so good. Do you have any other fave Annie Proulx novels? I like her writing and thought I would try some more."

Hey Aniesa- I once read a book of her short stories, called "Heart Songs" that I liked a lot. Nice to hear from you! I hope all is well out in LA.

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