Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

At thirty-six, Quoyle, a third-rate newspaperman, is wrenched violenty from his workaday life when his two-timing wife meets her just desserts. He retreats with his two daughters to his ancestral home on the starkly beautiful Newfoundland coast, where a rich cast of local characters all play a part in Quoyle's struggle to reclaim his life. As three generations of his family cobble up new lives, Quoyle confronts his private demons - and the unpredictable forces of nature and society - and begins to see the possibility of love without pain or misery.

A vigorous and darkly comic, and at times magical portrait of the contemporary American family, The Shipping News shows why Annie Proulx is recognized as one of the most gifted and original writers in America today. (Taken from back of book)

So this is the first summer reading book I read. It took me about a month to finish it, and only because I decided to read other things in between because I hated it so much. Yes, by the fortieth page, I loathed this book. I didn't like the main character Quoyle at all. He had no backbone and allowed everyone to walk all over him. I would later find out, thanks to SparkNotes, that Quoyle's exaggerated misery is written to be almost comedic. I also could not stand the writing, which is extremely sparse and prone to incomplete sentences. A sample phrase would read as: The aunt walked upstairs. Forgot her scarf. Got into the car. I just didn't understand why the author would decide not to use pronouns.

But, as I forced myself to read The Shipping News (it was summer reading, after all), I started liking it more. I got used to the writing and the style and the characters. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I enjoyed it, but it was bearable. Which is disappointing because it did win the Pulitzer Prize, so you would think that I would like it. I did like that Quoyle's character changed and he learned a lot about himself by the end of the book. That transformation redeems the book slightly in my eyes.

5 out of 10.

2 comments:

B.A.M. Book Reviews said...

I hate summer reading for school! I do love your layout though. I might have told you that but I just can't stop looking at it!

-Briana

Carol said...

Thanks for the review you have described the book wonderfully..
Carol
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