Monday, August 19, 2013

The Shipping News

1993, 1994 Touchstone edition
E. Annie Proulx
The Shipping News
Original price unknown, purchase price $8.95
Worn paperback with ironically water damage

Odd book about family, friendship, love, violence, death, pets, journalism, water, weather, and of course knots.  I can't say I like anyone in the book, but it's very well written and I wanted to keep reading, even during the disturbing parts.  I was reading some of it at a Farmer's Market and a man who looked vaguely familiar asked me if I'd seen the movie.  I said, "No, is it good?"  He said yes, and it's a good book.  I couldn't think of anything more to say but "uh huh," because, other than the Newfoundland scenery, I can't think of anything in the book I'd want to see on the big screen, and I don't think the turns of phrase would translate well.  I do know that after seeing Brokeback Mountain, I had no interest in reading Proulx's short story.  That movie is worth seeing once but the hostility of the sexuality was as disturbing as it is here.

I don't find this novel as celebratory of healing love, or as "darkly comic," as the back cover and some critics seem to think it is.  I should note that, to a lesser extent than in Brokeback (not enough to get the LGBT tag), Proulx does have a main character who's gay, but the character never comes out to anyone and it's just one more of the secrets of her life.  The best parts of the novel are probably those to do with the newspapers that protagonist R. G. Quoyle works at, as he becomes a good writer and eventually a good editor.

Oh, and this book shares a plot twist with Ivanhoe!

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