The Shipping News (Reading Group Guides Series)

The Shipping News (Reading Group Guides Series)

by Annie Proulx
3.6 100


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The Shipping News (Reading Group Guides Series) by Annie Proulx

E. Annie Proulx focuses on a Newfoundland fishing town in a tale about a third-rate newspaperman and the women in his life -- his elderly aunt and two young daughters -- who decide to resettle in their ancestral seaside home. The transformation each of the character undergoes following move is profound. A vigorous, darkly comic, and at times magical portrait of the contemporary American family, The Shipping News enlightens readers to the powers of E. Annie Proulx's storytelling genius and her expert evocation of time and place. She is truly one of the most gifted and original writers in America today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780020360780
Publisher: Macmillan Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date: 09/28/1994
Series: Reading Group Guides Series
Pages: 352

About the Author

E. Annie Proulx
"I am the oldest of five girls. I was born in Connecticut in 1935, where my mother's English ancestors -- farmers, mill workers, inventors, artists -- have lived for 350 years. My father's Franco-Canadian grandparents came to New England in the 1860s to work in the woolen mills. My father was in the textile business and we moved frequently when I was a child as he worked his way up the executive ladder. I suspect my intense and single-minded work habits stem from his example. My mother is a painter and amateur naturalist, and from her I learned to see and appreciate the natural world, to develop an eye for detail, and to tell a story. There is a strong tradition of oral storytelling in my mother's family and, as a child, I heard thousands of tales and adventures made out of nothing more substantial than the sight of a man digging clams, an ant moving a straw, an empty shoe.
"I've lived in Vermont for more than three decades, studies history at the University of Vermont and Concordia University in Montreal. In hindsight, I recognize that learning to examine the lives of individuals against the longue duree of events was invaluable training for novel-writing.
"There were few teaching jobs in history in the seventies, and I shifted from academic study to freelance journalism and for the next 15 years wrote articles on weather, apples, canoeing, mountain lions, mice, cuisine, libraries, African beadwork, cider, and lettuces for dozens of magazines. Whenever I could squeeze in the time I wrote short stories.
"In 1988, Scribners published a collection of these stories, Heart Songs and Other Stories. My editor encouraged me to write a novel, and this firsteffort was Postcards. Around the time Heart Songs was published I made my first trip to Newfoundland.
Rarely have I been so strongly moved by geography as I was during that first journey up the Great Northern Peninsula. The harsh climate, the grim history, the hard lives and the generous, warm characters of the outport fisherman and their families interested me deeply. Yet I could also see contemporary civilization rushing in on the island after its centuries of isolation and the idea for The Shipping News began to form.

Over the next few years I made nine trips of Newfoundland, watching, observing, taking notes, listening. I am keenly interested in situations of change, both personal and social, and in this book I wanted to show characters teetering along the highwires of their lives yet managing to keep their balance, lives placed against a background of incomprehensible and massive social change.
"The manuscript was completed several months before the Canadian government, alarmed at the decline of the northern cod stock, imposed a fishing moratorium in Newfoundland. Two years later the cod have not recovered, but are at the point of near-extinction. With their disappearance the Newfoundland fishing economy has collapsed. It is now generally observed on the island that the old outport fishing life that sustained Newfoundlanders for centuries is finished."


LaBarge, Wyoming

Date of Birth:

August 22, 1935

Place of Birth:

Norwich, Connecticut


Attended Colby College in the 1950s. B.A., University of Vermont, 1969; M.A., Sir George Williams University, 1973

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The Shipping News 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 99 reviews.
kimdep More than 1 year ago
This is the story of Quoyle.. who is always the foil.. he was treated badly growing up, was severely emotionally abused throughout his marriage to a whorish nymphomaniac, and repeatedly got fired from his dead end job. So when his aunt suggests they move to Newfoundaland he picks up his children .. Bunny & Sunshine (love their names).. and moves. In Newfoundland he is re-created. He becomes successful at his job. He is respected by others. The town has it's own quirkiness so he & the family fit in well. I liked the story a lot. To me it really reflects how our roots affect us in ways we don't even realize. I think it's really cool when a character discovers things about themselves through digging into their ancestry. The writing style is quick and easy to read. The dialogue is engaging as the town people speak with their unique accent. I enjoyed reading this story of self-discovery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't imagine anyone not placing this book at the top of their Must Read list. The characters are real - not grand in stature - but so like the rest of us - not pretty, struggling, abandoned, but filled with a great desire to find a life. As a former newspaper woman, I especially like the way our hero narrows everything down to alliterative headlines. How could you not howl when the entire family is confined to a single motel room and the dog is farting up a storm in its sleep: Farts Fell Family of Four. You've got to love it.
cuivre More than 1 year ago
This book depressed me at first, then grew on me, and then haunted me after I finished it. Quoyle became real to me, a regular guy capable of love. I was rooting for him. I am still rooting for him all these years later.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To criticize the writing in this excellent novel is to showcase an ignorance of the reality of cadenced and often clipped thoughts each of possess, especially at our more vulnerable moments. This perfectly and artistically crafted novel is full of nuanced description, allegorical characters, and a poetic rhythm that makes for a totally unique read. Brilliant.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Definitely deserving of it's Pulitzer. I read a lot and normally know where a story is going and why, but this is so artfully complex and surprising, without being contrived. So well done!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Yes, it is complex, and yes, she does change the rules of grammar, but all to a purpose. Quoyle is symbolic of the aimless, empty lives so many of us live these days. By pure grace is he saved.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Proulx's prose is as cutting and cool as the Newfoundland coast she writes about. The characters are so real, it's as if you could reach out and touch them. Haunting, and truly magical, a book about hope and the things that keep us going.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I didn't even bother finishing this book. It was depressing from the start, and I was never given any reason to hope for or cheer for Quoyle. He had absolutely no redeeming qualities, nor was there a thing about him to which I could relate or identify. I didn't think it was worth continuing. I don't understand why this author has so many fans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book would have been good if it weren't so ARTSY. I think the author is trying to sound intelligent and be unique by writing sentence fragments, but I found it took away from the book. The plot is able to be developed into a good book, but the author's style of writing ruined the whole experience.
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Always be my favorie book
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AnnieBM More than 1 year ago
Proulx presents an interesting tale weaving together maritime lingo, knots, and know-how, with a bit of humor and the seldom shared realities of human life. I recommend the book as a fairly light read with some depth and interesting nuances.
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