Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Shipping News - Annie Proulx

Title: The Shipping News
Author: Annie Proulx
Date Finished: May 26, 2008
Yearly Count: 27
Pages: 337
Rating: 2/5

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??

They also reviewed it:


The Shipping News


All the Pretty Horses

The World According to Garp

The Remains of the Day

The Book Thief

All the King's Men


The Left Hand of Darkness

The Age of Innocence

As I Lay Dying


The Giver

The Robber Bride

*Favorite: The Book Thief
*Least Favorite: The Left Hand of Darkness


Stephanie said...

It's funny, because I've read similiar comments on a few blogs this year. And I have heard such good things about it before. I've always meant to read it, I've just never found the time.

Nice review, but I'm sorry you didn't like it better!

Jeane said...

I saw a lot of flattering reviews about this book, but every time I picked it up it didn't look interesting. I think you've confirmed my impression!

Bookfool said...

I haven't read The Shipping News and I'm pretty sure I don't even own a copy. That's good, then, right?

Congrats on completing the challenge. At least three of the books you read are personal favorites of mine . . . maybe 4. No, 3. I think. Well, okay, I love The Book Thief and The Remains of the Day and The Age of Innocence. The Giver is close, but not quite a favorite. So, yeah, 3. You read some really terrific books.

Laura said...

Man, I'm surprised at your review--with a main character named Quoyle, how can it not be good?? :) At least you are finished with a big challenge. Yay you!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Stephanie - I'd like to think it was just bad timing, but I'm not really sure. I just don't see what the big deal about this book is!

*Jeane - I'm gonna have to go search for those reviews to see what I'm missing. The story was bland and not very thought-provoking (at least for me). Oh well!

*Bookfool - Definitely doesn't not have sexy man with gun in holster on the cover in case you're looking. Too bad, I could have used a little excitement with this book! I did read some really great books for the challenge--I loved Remains of the Day as well--probably one of the best books I've read so far this year.

*Laura - Yay for being finished with my first dang challenge of the year! I'd like to kick some of the other people who are finishing their 10+ challenge. Oh well. Ya, interesting names in this book: Quoyle, Wavey, Sunshine, Bunny, Beety. Did I mention that Proulx wrote Brokeback Mountain???

bethany (dreadlock girl) said...

yay! Good for your, you completed the challenge! way to go girl!

Huh, it is interesting that you gave that 2 stars. I saw the movie and hated the movie, I think it was that one....anyway CONGRATS on the challenge.

CJ said...

Thanks for the review - I've been considering it for a challenge or two and now I'll have to give it more thought. That's a good thing!

And I agree with Bookfool - you've read some wonderful books! Congrats on finishing. I think I'm done, too, but I need to double check.


Debi said...

Sorry this one was a disappointment. Guess I don't need to be adding this one to the old wish list...whew!

Congrats of finishing up the challenge! That's always such a good feeling, isn't it? I'm afraid I'm never going to get this one finished in time...so I joined the Book Awards II to redeem myself. lol

Ana S. said...

I'm sorry to hear this one was a disappointment. I haven't read this author before, but I do have a collection of her short stories somewhere. The advantage with short stories is that I can read a few, and if I don't like them I feel less bad abandoning the book. Anyway, congratulations on finishing the challenge!

Anonymous said...

Admittedly all I can recall of Shipping News is that a high school instructor gave it to me saying it was wonderful (perhaps she started the rumor!?) and I absolutely could not finish it. Since then I've avoided the author. Kudos for making it through the entire book.

Corinne said...

Yeah, this one did not do it for me either.

Amanda said...

That's so weird! I remember that I enjoyed the movie too but it's good to know about the writing style of the book. Hmmm...I might still try and read it though...

Anonymous said...

I've had this book on my shelf for years! Have I ever had the desire to pick it up right away? No. I've always intended to read it at some point. Maybe a little later rather than sooner?

Joy said...

Congratulations on finishing the challenge! You've earned a little break for now, but soon it'll be time to begin Book Awards II! :)

Literary Feline said...

Congratulations on finishing the challenge!

I haven't yet read anything by Annie Proulx. I have a book of short stories by her somewhere around here. I admit that I haven't paid much attention to this book--haven't even seen the movie.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Bethany - I'm thinking about doing away with ratings altogether because I have such a tough time with them. I did finish the book, so that counts for something, right? I remember liking the movie, but I can't remember why. :P

*CJ - Well, read some other reviews (although from the comments it seems I'm not alone in my feelings). It was a pretty easy read--I'll give it that. It just didn't go anywhere.

*Debi - This is my first finished challenge for the year, so I'm feeling a little behind. I'm trying to tie up some of the loose ends, though, so it doesn't seem so overwhelming that I'm in at least 10 challenges right now!!

*Nymeth - Thanks! I saw Brokeback Mountain and was really moved by the story--although it was a little stark as well (but that could be the difference with Ang Lee directing--who I really like). I haven't read anything else by her.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Bookchronicle - Well, its a pretty short book, which made it much easier. I guess all you can do is move on. :)

*Corinne - Glad I'm not alone. This book has won several prizes so I've been trying to figure out where I went wrong!

*Amanda - I hope you enjoy it. From what I understand, it is supposed to be a great book--just not my cup of tea. ;)

*Natasha - At least it is an easy read--it shouldn't take too long, which makes it a little better. There is nothing worse than a difficult bad read! I'll be interested in what you think when you do get to it.

*Joy - Whew, not sure if I'm up for the BA II challenge!! I think I might do that one unofficially. Until I can get some of the others wrapped up, I'm done joining (today anyway)

*Lit Feline - Thank you! It certainly feels great to be done with at least one challenge this year. The movie was a sleeper--I watched it by myself right after I had had surgery (maybe it was the painkillers that made me enjoy the movie??). She also did Brokeback Mountain (which I believe is a novella or short story).

valentina said...

seriously? only 2/5? I had high expectations for this one and it's been on my "tbr" list for ages but never got around even buying it...I still want to give
it a try one day and see what I think.

valentina said...

anyway, I've tagged you for a meme!:

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Valentina - I had high expectations of this one as well, but it is critically acclaimed--so someone likes it. :) And I hope you do--don't let my "ehhh" review stop you from reading it!!

I need to catch up on my bloghopping, but I'll try to do the meme tomorrow afternoon. :)

Amanda said...

Yay! I'm so glad to hear someone else say the same things i thought about this book. I picked it up, trying a newer author, and it just left a bad taste in my mouth. Bad writing, bad characterization...I hardly remember the book, it was just not worth remembering.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Amanda - I honestly can't figure out why this one is so highly praised. I'm thinking about getting rid of my copy, but I keep thinking--what if I missed something!?! I'm guess I didn't. Have you read anything else by her?

Amanda said...

No, I haven't read anything else by her. I just tossed the book aside, really disappointed. I lived in rural Wisconsin and it was very difficult to find good books there, and I wanted to try to find a "new" classic. This book put me off new classics.

Anonymous said...

Hated this book!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Amanda - Ya--definitely would not call this a new classic! I put it in the "get rid of" pile today!

*Costanza - LOL. I don't want to say I *hated* it, but I disliked it a lot!