I’m trying, for the life of me, to figure out what makes this book as great as “they” say it is. Unfortunately I’m drawing a blank on this one. Grrr! I watched the movie years ago and remember enjoying it, but I was really let down by the book.
The Shipping News is the story of Quoyle, a quiet and misunderstood man who doesn’t seem to have anything right going for him. When his life hits rock bottom, he moves with his aunt and two young children from the states to Newfoundland–the province where his ancestors are from.
In Newfoundland, Quoyle learns to adapt to the foreign lifestyle with the help of a motley cast of characters. He learns about survival and what it means to love and live fully and freely. Sounds good, right? Could have/should have been? I had a tough time with Proulx’s stark and choppy language–often wandering points and sentences that are missing main components (nouns, verbs, etc). I think my difficulty with the writing might partially be because I am coming off of the rich and deliberate language from All the King’s Men, but I never really felt comfortable with the rhythm of Proulx’s writing.
In addition, the characters seemed flat–well, Quoyle had a little bit of character. Even at the end of the novel, I had a difficult time distinguishing between the different characters because they all seemed interchangeable. I do think that Quoyle grows throughout the novel–that he makes some important discoveries about himself, but the rest of the book didn’t really seem to go anywhere. With all of the subplots, I kept thinking–so what? Where is all of this going? Oh well! I think it was just a bad reading week with a book that I must have missed out on the larger picture. It happens, right??
The Shipping News
*Favorite: The Book Thief
*Least Favorite: The Left Hand of Darkness