Shipping News

Shipping News

by E. Annie Proulx
1st Edition, ©1994, ISBN: 9780671510053
Trade Paperback, 352 pages
Current Retail Price: $12.00
Used Price: $3.00 (1 in stock) Condition Policy

PLEASE NOTE: this is your last chance to buy this book. We will NOT be buying it again. Also, this book is NOT RETURNABLE, and SOLD AS-IS. It may have defects, such as highlighting, torn pages or loose cover.

Sometimes a novel's greatness is more dependent on form than narrative. Quoyle's story is intriguing, but E. Annie Proulx's use of sailing lore, particularly the names and history of knots, is what makes this a unique literary experience. Winner of the Pulitzer in 1994, The Shipping News is everything literature should be—compelling, thoughtful, and beautiful. Proulx presents a life of great pain and great joy, sometimes shocking, often relatable.

Most chapters begin with an epigraph from The Ashley Book of Knots, a classic text on knot-tying and use. Quoyle's name refers to a sailing knot used to support sailors' foot traffic, which becomes a metaphor for the stability he finds amid the chaos and heartbreak around him. It's a process, though—early in the novel Quoyle encounters the suicide, kidnapping, betrayal, and death of various members of his family, and his own inner crisis. At the end of his rope, he returns to the ancestral home in Newfoundland to make a new life for himself and his daughters.

Proulx's imagery is like the Newfoundland geography—strange, frightening, beautiful. She handles tragedy realistically; there are elements of sadness, but also humor (albeit morbid at times) and wonder at the human capacity for transformation. Elements of the plot are unsettling (Quoyle's wife sells their daughters on the black market, for instance), but Quoyle never capitulates.

This is a fine book. Imaginative, lyrical, and utterly human, The Shipping News is essentially a modern Job story set in a world foreign and familiar. The sailing lore isn't gimmicky—it's a controlling metaphor for Quoyle's existence that helps expand his story from a merely individual level to universally human.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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