Day 13 – The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
I can hear the howls of protests now: that I dare speak of Annie Proulx’s books in these terms! But, it’s true. I WAS sadly disappointed with this book! After all the Pulitzer-prize -winning hype and hearing the author speak, not only in an interview about the book, but also of her insistence at hand-writing all her manuscripts to avoid a certain writing style she felt came with writing on a computer keyboard, my expectations were high for The Shipping News. Maybe a little too high?
Firstly, there was nothing much to love about ‘Quoyle’s character; well, there’s the fundamental problem! If you don’t like the protagonist, things aren’t going to go well with the book, generally speaking.
Quoyle’s character is that of a
…defeated man, “He knows the taste of brack and seaweed.” Even his name, “Quoyle,” is a mariner’s term for a coil of deck rope to “be walked on.” People walk all over Quoyle, a clumsy man whose doughy and weak-chinned face is “camouflaged torment with smiles and silences.”says one Goodreads review.
And then, I didn’t like the plot, either. Boom! Another death knell in the coffin for the Shipping News, at least in my eyes. Seemingly predictable, the storyline ensured the ‘bored and skipping pages look’ started to appear in me, during my reading of the Shipping News.
So, if it was this bad, was there anything I did like?
The setting was different and it really made me want to visit Newfoundland. I was also intrigued by the eccentric and wiry characters in the Killick Claw community. I imagined them to possess a totally different persona from other parts of America, but I could be way off in my estimation there, as American anthropology is not my strong point. I do remember Newfoundland was a Viking area long before Columbus sailed in to America, wasn’t it? So there’s one point, at least in the book’s favour.
Furthermore, I liked the almost Dickensian names, the rich vocabulary, the scenic imagery and poetic adjectives often inherent in Proulx’s writing such as:
“Waves bursting. Exploding Water. Silence and the gnawing sea”… “and the woman with arctic eyes”. (Names like: Petal Bear, Wavey Prouse, Bunny and Sunshine, etc)
And finally, I loved the sailor’s knot depicted at the start of each chapter. That was a cute and unique addition to the book.
But overall…. if the plot fails, the book fails, and it fell ever so quickly and resoundingly on the ‘NRAP” – ‘Never read again pile’
My apologies to Proulx fans.
Something to Ponder About
DAY 14. – Book that made you cry