The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
A Novel

71%

12 Critic Reviews

Underneath the ice and in the lee of the storms comes the story of Quoyle and his little girls (Bunny and Sunshine Quoyle), the memories of his much-beloved wife who was killed while leaving him. Our poor, love-starved Quoyle has only his memory of an unrequited love and a woman who ignored and belittled...
-Blog Critics

Synopsis

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News is a vigorous, darkly comic, and at times magical portrait of the contemporary North American family.

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 life when his two-timing wife meets her just desserts. An aunt convinces Quoyle and his two emotionally disturbed daughters to return with her to the starkly beautiful coastal landscape of their ancestral home in Newfoundland. Here, on desolate Quoyle’s Point, in a house empty except for a few mementos of the family’s unsavory past, the battered members of three generations try to cobble up new lives.

Newfoundland is a country of coast and cove where the mercury rarely rises above seventy degrees, the local culinary delicacy is cod cheeks, and it’s easier to travel by boat and snowmobile than on anything with wheels. In this harsh place of cruel storms, a collapsing fishery, and chronic unemployment, the aunt sets up as a yacht upholsterer in nearby Killick-Claw, and Quoyle finds a job reporting the shipping news for the local weekly, the Gammy Bird (a paper that specializes in sexual-abuse stories and grisly photos of car accidents).

As the long winter closes its jaws of ice, each of the Quoyles confronts private demons, reels from catastrophe to minor triumph—in the company of the obsequious Mavis Bangs; Diddy Shovel the strongman; drowned Herald Prowse; cane-twirling Beety; Nutbeem, who steals foreign news from the radio; a demented cousin the aunt refuses to recognize; the much-zippered Alvin Yark; silent Wavey; and old Billy Pretty, with his bag of secrets. By the time of the spring storms Quoyle has learned how to gut cod, to escape from a pickle jar, and to tie a true lover’s knot.
 

About Annie Proulx

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Annie Proulx is the author of eight books, including the novel The Shipping News and the story collection Close Range. Her many honors include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, and a PEN/Faulkner award. Her story “Brokeback Mountain,” which originally appeared in The New Yorker, was made into an Academy Award-winning film. Her most recent book is Fine Just the Way It Is. She lives in Wyoming.
 
Published January 1, 2008 by Scribner. 354 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Shipping News
All: 12 | Positive: 10 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Below average
on May 20 2010

Proulx pumps up this low-key material with a splash of local color...a pinch of melodrama (headless corpse washes ashore), and a rattle of skeletons...Proulx does okay by Newfoundland (though she won't help tourism any), but Quoyle, the poor turkey, is a fatal self- inflicted wound.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Aug 07 2015

But the novel is much more than Quoyle's story: it is a moving evocation of a place and people buffeted by nature and change...She is in her element both when creating haunting images...and when lyrically rendering a routine of gray, cold days filled with cold cheeks, squidburgers, fried bologna and the sea.

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Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by hfdratch on May 17 2007

Underneath the ice and in the lee of the storms comes the story of Quoyle and his little girls (Bunny and Sunshine Quoyle), the memories of his much-beloved wife who was killed while leaving him. Our poor, love-starved Quoyle has only his memory of an unrequited love and a woman who ignored and belittled...

Read Full Review of The Shipping News : A Novel | See more reviews from Blog Critics

Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Judith Handschuh on Jan 23 2011

The novel is, by turns, heartbreaking and comic. The story of Quoyle's early life will bring tears to your eyes, but as the story spins on, you will find yourself wiping away tears of laughter instead of sorrow...It is beautifully written --- Proulx prose comes very close to poetry at times --- and chronicles a compelling story of love and renewal.

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Curled Up

Excellent
Reviewed by curledup on Jul 27 2015

Proulx's writing is lyrical, affecting, and at times laugh-out-loud funny...The novel's cadence enraptures the reader, carrying you away to a harsh but beautiful place where the people who live by the sea are strong and, deep down, warm...The only thing I regret about having read this book is that I can never come to it for the first time again

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Brothers Judd

Below average
Reviewed by brothersjudd on Jul 27 2015

...despite Ms Proulx's skillful utilization of a novel setting...by the time the characters actually achieved some kind of personal breakthroughs she had lost my interest. After all, when an author takes such obvious pleasure in making her characters' lives miserable, it's hard for a reader to muster much empathy for them.

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Shelf Love

Above average
Reviewed by Jenny on Apr 12 2011

I did have a few reservations about the book. Proulx put so much into this novel that there were a few unsatisfying loose ends...The writing was wonderful, full of energy and vigor. The characters were sometimes lovable and always real. I am very glad I finally read this peculiar, ice-crusted, Canada-soaked novel about coming home.

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January Magazine

Good
Reviewed by Margaret Gunning on Aug 14 2015

The Shipping News does not have a conventional plot, but unfolds in quirkily graceful episodes so drenched in atmosphere that they are like beautifully polished, linked short stories...If you haven't read The Shipping News, get your hands on this new edition. If you have, read it again.

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A Novel Approach

Above average
Reviewed by Gen Y on Jul 05 2011

Proulx’s writing style is something of a shock to the system. More than any author I’ve read in a long time, she has clearly and deliberately set out to create a unique writing style...Once you get used to the style, this is quite a good novel...Probably not the greatest novel I’ve ever read, The Shipping News nevertheless is a really good read...

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BooksAreTheNewBlack

Good
Reviewed by Natalie Ramm on Nov 05 2010

All in all, it’s about how Quoyle tries to find independence from the haunting memory of his wife, a job he likes and can hold onto, friends, reciprocal love, and a new life for his two little girls...The Shipping News is darkly humorous, witty, and lyrical... I say it’s good, and you should read it.

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BooksPlease

Above average
Reviewed by Margaret on Jun 09 2008

To some extent I think this is a book of set pieces, loosely linked together. Really not much happens, although there are tantalising hints that dramas lie around the corner just enough to keep me turning the pages to find out what happens next. The writing style, although annoying has left vivid pictures in my mind...

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http://mangalapalliv.wordpress.com

Good
Reviewed by Vish Mangalapalli on Apr 30 2008

At its core “The Shipping News” is a book about the journey of the hero Quoyle to his ancestral home at Quoyle point and also his ancestral roots...Proulx weaves magic with words. The control and abandon with which she employs language to evoke the sense of place, people, pettinesses, prejudices is one of the finest I have seen so far.

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Reader Rating for The Shipping News
72%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 768 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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