Retro Review: The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

This is my first Retro Review Post. The name is probably obvious, but I’ll just say that Retro Reviews are reviews of old books that randomly come to me by word of mouth or pushy book-lenders. This week’s Retro Review is a book that I found in the free pile in my friend’s building’s laundry room.

I don’t read every book that I find in a free pile, but when three of my friends randomly came into possession of the same book, we decided to read it together. Here’s what I thought:

EannieProulx_TheShippingNewsThe thing that will strike the reader most about The Shipping News is not the story itself, but the atmosphere of the book. I am desperate to go to Newfoundland now, just desperate.

I would rather go to Newfoundland and eat flipper pie, work for a local newspaper full of typos and drive a boat to work than live in Manhattan and work for the New York Times. That’s how well E. Annie Proulx has convinced me of this world and the way she does it is so ultra clever.

We begin with a man named Quoyle who, in the outside world, is soggy and loathsome. I wasn’t sure I could go through with this novel to begin with because I didn’t know that I wanted to spend that much time with such a pathetic, self-victimizing, paragraph of depression as him. He’s everything that a person hopes that they are not. You don’t want to know too much about him because you don’t want it to rub off on you.

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