Thursday, 13 January 2011

Come in No.6, your time is up.

Six books in thirteen days - I am still on course for 100+ books in 2011. Just need fair winds and to avoid the Doldrums.

The Shipping News is a story of... the many ways in which we are attached or detached from our lives; a journey towards mastery; how words are used and what makes a story.
Chapters are often headed by line drawings of knots and an explanation of their uses and construction. The lead character is called Quoyle, his name (coil) suggesting his detachment from his own life. Not knotted.
He drifts into a job as a local reporter. He often highlights his thoughts by dreaming up imaginary headlines, often humorously banal. "Man Walks Across Parking Lot at Moderate Pace." He seems to have no real talent for it ("It's like reading cement. Too long. Way, way, way too long. Confused. No human interest. No Quotes. Stale.") and gets married - which is a car crash in slow motion until there is a car crash. But there are two kids and he loves them.

After relocating to his ancestral home Quoyle starts to engage with the community and seems to fit in to their local newspaper better. They have certain rules - pictures of car crashes and sexual abuse stories are run every issue. The paper is full of ads, more ads than there are local businesses.
I don't want to reveal too much - this is a highly evocative, wise and original book. Full of newsroom cynicism and smalltown eccentricity the story is particular but also universal.
"A pendulum clock brought from the equator to a northern country will run fast. Arctic rivers cut deepest into their right banks, and hunters lost in the north woods unconsciously veer to the right as the earth turns beneath their feet. And in the north the dangerous storms from the west often begin with an east wind. All of these things are related to the Coriolis, the reeling gyroscopic effect of the earth's spin that creates wind and flow of weather, the countering backwashes and eddies of storms."
A suggestion, perhaps, that there is a place for everyone. - Hard Shell Cracks to Reveal Soft Centre.
Annie Proulx


  1. Wow, I just started reading this book yesterday! And I'm having a hard time putting it down. I love her writing style, so choppy and disjointed. It really enhances the tone of the book.

    1. Yes, I love the way the style reflects the journalistic setting. I also love the way she puts across that small town wisdom which seems universal, full of unspoken understanding.