Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, The Shipping News is a celebration of Annie Proulx's genius for storytelling and her vigorous contribution to the art of the novel.
Quoyle, a third-rate newspaper hack, with a "head shaped like a crenshaw, no neck, reddish hair...features as bunched as kissed fingertips," is wrenched violently out of his workaday life when his two-timing wife meets her just deserts. An aunt convinces Quoyle and his two emotionally disturbed daughters to return with her to the starkly beautiful coastal landscape of their ancestral home in Newfoundland. Here, on desolate Quoyle's Point, in a house empty except for a few mementos of the family's unsavory past, the battered members of three generations try to cobble up new lives.
Newfoundland is a country of coast and cove where the mercury rarely rises above 70 degrees, the local culinary delicacy is cod cheeks, and it's easier to travel by boat and snowmobile than on anything with wheels. In this harsh place of cruel storms, a collapsing fishery, and chronic unemployment, the aunt sets up as a yacht upholsterer in nearby Killick-Claw, and Quoyle finds a job reporting the shipping news for the local weekly, the Gammy Bird (a paper that specializes in sexual-abuse stories and grisly photos of car accidents).
As the long winter closes its jaws of ice, each of the Quoyles confronts private demons, reels from catastrophe to minor triumph - in the company of the obsequious Mavis Bangs; Diddy Shovel the strongman; drowned Herald Prowse; cane-twirling Beety; Nutbeem, who steals foreign news from the radio; a demented cousin the aunt refuses to recognize; the much-zippered Alvin Yark; silent Wavey; and old Billy Pretty, with his bag of secrets. By the time of the spring storms Quoyle has learned how to gut cod, to escape from a pickle jar, and to tie a true lover's knot.
"She is in her element both when creating haunting images ... and when lyrically rendering a routine of gray, cold days filled with cold cheeks, squidburgers, fried bologna and the sea." - Publishers Weekly
"Memorable characters--gay aunt Agnis, difficult daughter Bunny, new love interest Wavey, many colorful locals in their new hometown--combine with dark stories of the Quoyle family's past and the staccato, often subjectless or verbless sentences (bound to make English teachers cringe) to create a powerful whole." - Library Journal
"The writing is charged with sardonic wit - alive, funny, a little threatening; packed with brilliantly original images...and, now and then, a sentence that simply takes your breath away." - USA Today
"Annie Proulx's stunning, big-hearted The Shipping News thaws the frozen lives of its characters and warms readers." - San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle
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Edna Annie Proulx was born in Norwich, Connecticut, to parents of
French-Canadian ancestry. She graduated from Deering High School in Portland,
Maine, then attended Colby College "for a short period in the 1950s." She later
returned to school, studying at the University of Vermont from 1966 to 1969, and
graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts in History in
1969. She got her Master of Arts from Sir George Williams University (now
Concordia University) in Montreal, Quebec in 1973 and pursued, but did not
complete, her Ph.D. Starting as a journalist, her first published work of
fiction is thought to be "The Customs Lounge," a science fiction story published
in the September 1963 issue of If, under the byline "E.A....
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