One of the most delightful reading experiences is to begin a novel that contains such misery and provides a tortured view of a pathetic existence, to lament that this book will only continue in that path and serve to fully depress, to almost lay it down from sheer fright of the future pages, and then to suddenly, magically, find that the novel is quite possibly one of the best you have ever read.
Quoyle is a tragic figure, not because he truly means to be, but because his circumstances and upbringing mold him into one. Proulx's genius is illustrated by her steady yet subtle transformation of his character while surprising readers with his innate goodness (originally hidden by every fault). And this novel is a classic example of the reason one must have the negatives - to fully appreciate the positives. Without the atrocious wife, Petal Bear, one could not fully grasp Quoyle; without Quoyle's deadbeat father and brother, one could not understand Quoyle's aunt; without all the tribulations in the story, one could not love the children, Bunny and Sunshine.
The Shipping News is a book that tugs at heartstrings without hurting the reader. It is a story that transforms its characters as well as its audience, leaving a message not of pain and suffering, but of hope, love and justice.
Proulx's solid, stunning, stellar writing sets the mood for this novel placed in a small shipping town in Newfoundland. Although the characters are physically isolated, they slowly break down and get to know each other in a natural way - not at all forced as in many other contemporary novels. Such a comment on the way of life in Canada.
Proulx's diction amazes and stuns as much as it puzzles, many times completing removing passive verbs from entire chapters. Along the way, you learn much about tying knots - and also about untying the complex knots of her characters.
I thought I would hate this book when I first started reading it. It is written in a style I have never come across before. Ironic would be the best way to describe it. I ended up loving the story. It gives a glimpse into a life most of us could never imagine.
I wasn't too sure that I would like this book when I first started reading it...After the first few chapters, though, I didn't want to put it down! It's a great read!
"The Shipping News" is the winner of the 1994 Pulizer Prize for fiction. This win is actually why I chose to read "The Shipping News".
I enjoyed reading "The Shipping News", but it was a little bit difficult to get into. Proloux's writing style was a bit different, and difficult for me to get used to. She sometimes didn't use subjects (sometimes not even verbs). This was interesting. I didn't necessarily like it nor dislike it. And it was actually fun to read something completely different like that.
So, you may be asking why I didn't rate it higher. Well, I was never "gripped" by the novel. There wasn't even one of those moments where I didn't feel like I could put the book down. The whole of "The Shipping News" was just ok. I enjoyed it, but it certainly isn't going to become a book I would read over and over again.
"The Shipping News" tells the story of a widower who moves from New York with his aunt and his two small children to Newfoundland after the death of his wife and his parents. It is really fascinating to see what life was / is like in Newfoundland. It definitely picqued my curiousity to visit the country where waves freeze.
With all of that said, I do still recommend that you pick up "The Shipping News" and give it a read. It makes for interesting reading anyway.