Welcome to . . . Read With Us Discussion Day
Bonny and Carole and I are posting discussion question(s) today for our latest RWU book . . . The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. Join the discussion (which you’re welcome do even if you didn’t read the book) by commenting on our blogs. I’ll be answering your posts within the comment section for this discussion — and you can comment on other people’s comments, as well. Y’know . . . like in a real book group.
First . . . I’d really like to know what you thought of the book. What did you like best (or least) about the book? If this was a re-read for you, what was your experience with that? Did you watch the movie version of the book?
Second . . . My favorite part of reading The Shipping News is getting to know the quirky characters. (And there are MANY quirky characters!) Which characters did you like best — and why? Who will you likely remember most?
Third . . . Annie Proulx has a distinct writing style that works very well with the story she’s telling in The Shipping News. How do you think her writing enhances the mood and setting of the story?
I can’t wait to hear what you think!
Don’t forget: We’ll be discussing the book on Zoom tonight – 7:00 pm Eastern Time. There’s still time for you to join us! Just let me know of your interest either with a comment or by sending me an email (see sidebar, above) — and I’ll send a Zoom invitation.
PS – If you are planning to join us on the Zoom, but haven’t received an invitation from me (I sent them yesterday), please let me know so I can get the Zoom link to you today.
The first time I listened to the book, it was hard for me to get past the abuse in the story – and I did not like it much. But reading it a second time, I was prepared for the abuse and I got a completely different take on the story. (Go figure, lol)
Anyways, I think it is brilliant how Proulx gave such a fitting end to Petal… and then provides a “new space” for Quoyle to take his family… to begin to heal. There he discovers people who are damaged, have lots of baggage, and with many daily struggles… and yet, even in the damaged he finds bright spots.
The second time through, I spent more time contemplating the names of the characters… I wondered why Proulx would give them all such curious names (thanks Bonny for the knot references!!) I think she did it to make them more memorable!
I think this book stands up well over the many years since it was written is because it is so relatable… at least to me. People with problems, struggles, victims… eventually find a way out, it is not always pretty. There isn’t always a “happy ending” but one learns that despite all that, life goes on and can have good moments… or maybe just calm moments, but both are improvement!
It is such a harsh book in so many ways, Kat. I’m glad you were willing to give it a re-read, despite your memories/reactions to your initial read. There is so much . . . richness . . . to this book — the setting, the characters, Quoyle’s personal development, the writring style and how it brings it all together. It really does stand up well to time, though. I agree with you. . . I wouldn’t exactly call it a “happy” ending kind of book, but it is hopeful. And Quoyle has developed himSELF to be able to deal with whatever life flings at him next.
I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading this book…and I didn’t remember anything about it – LOL. (And now I want to read more by Proulx – I think I have “Postcards” in one of the bookcases in our house.) Were there any characters in the book who were not quirky? LOL I enjoyed them all. The two little girls were certainly strange. All the newspaper folks were odd. Quoyle, the Aunt and Wavey were all peculiar and I think all the quirkiness was perfect and made the book what it is. I think that Proulx’s writing style (which can be so introspective) works well for this book. Looking forward to our meet-up tonight!
Pretty much every character . . . was quirky! Despite the quirks, I liked them all (well, except Petal). I loved watching Quoyle “find” himself and become sure of his place among his people.
Quoyle! He was changed, grew, and became the best he could be because he wanted to protect and care for the people he loved in the most disagreeable circumstances; weather, grief, poverty. He was/will be a great man. Every character was quirky and so fun to get to know. This has always been on my favorite books list.
I really did love watching Quoyle come to terms with himself, his family, his history, his life with Petal — all of it. There is a scene toward the end of the book when we stands naked in front of a mirror. He turns this way and that and looks at “the loaf” of himself . . . and likes what he sees! This, to me, is the ultimate sign of Quoyle’s journey to accepting himself. (I’ll bet he stops hiding his chin from then on, too.) It doesn’t mean life is “happy” — but he has the resources to deal with whatever happens next.
I really enjoy this book and it’s been one of my favorites ever since I read it the first time.
I like all the quirky characters (except Petal). I don’t know if Newfoundland is a gathering place for those that are different, but each of Proulx’s characters is interesting and I enjoy how they all just accept the quirks. I think Quoyle will always stand out for me because he overcame so many fears – of car crashes, water, and death, and finally found out that love did not have to come with pain. I also look up to the Aunt. I love her treatment of her brother’s ashes and how she just gets on with things. (Judy Dench was perfect in the movie!)
As far as writing style, I was not a big fan of Proulx’s short fragmented sentences, but they grew on me after a while, enough that I began to not notice them. I enjoyed her use of language as I could envision people and places, e.g. “Quoyle was a great damp loaf of a man”, and his “prominent shelf of a chin”. Overall, it’s just a great book!
This was a reread for me, but it may as well have been a first read because I really remembered next to nothing! And I have a feeling quite a lot of it might have been over my head the first time I read it (which was probably when I was a teenager). I really enjoyed it this time around, and what stuck out to me the most was the author’s very pithy and blunt style. I think it might have driven me nuts had I been the one editing the book (so many sentence fragments!), but it felt appropriate for a story set in a place where you really can’t linger when you’re going anywhere.
This book!!! I know I read it when it first came out but I have absolutely no memory of the story at all. So this time around was as if it was the first time. I found it to be both timeless and of its time. It started out somewhat anachronistically for me but then the timelessness of the place and the characters’ experiences took over from the dated parts: no cell phones, file cabinets full of old photos, composing the paper pretty much by hand were elements of the datedness of the story. The timelessness is apparent in the author’s depictions of the relationships and the nature of life at the end of the road, exposed to the elements, in Quoyle and the aunt learning to trust and rely on the neighbors and to becoming contributing members of their new community.
The characters I liked the best were the women: Wavey, Beety and her mother in law, and even the aunt.
The main men were unforgettable but less likeable other than Jack and Dennis. Their family seemed to be at the beating heart of the community, willing to give and to help and support the newcomers any way they could. For me, Quoyle became more likeable as he settled into himself and began to believe in himself bit by bit.
I’ll probably remember Quoyle and Wavey, and Beety and Dennis, Jack and his wife, and the newspaper staff. They stood out for me the most. I did appreciate the way the newspaper guys had each others’ backs even when they didn’t get along. They got that paper out, whatever it took and they were mostly decent to each other while disagreeing. They functioned as a sort of second family for each other and became one for Quoyle when he arrived.
Finally, I had a really hard time with the choppiness of the writing style at the beginning. It seemed to smooth out for me as the story developed and Quoyle began to settle into himself. I loved the piles of descriptors that Proulx used to convey the atmosphere in which the story took place. She built a rich visceral experience of Atlantic Canada through her use of layers and layers of words. Some of it resonated for me because I was raised in a Massachusetts seacoast small town and I remember what it was like when the nor’easters blew in during the winter. I remember how the water changed from moment to moment and we could hear the waves hitting the beach when the wind was in the right direction. I absolutely believed it when the storm tore the old house away from its anchoring cables and washed it into the sea. I believed it when Quoyle realized for himself how unseaworthy the first boat he bought was. I appreciated the building of his new boat as a metaphor for his rebuilding of himself and his integration into the community. I loved the chapter headings. They contributed to the overall atmosphere of the book as well as setting the tone for each chapter. In fact, I think I had a copy of the Ashley Book of Knots when I was in high school.
I wasn’t sure going into this read if I would like the book or even finish it but I’m so glad I did. I don’t know if I will reread it but I can see how a second read would be a rich experience. In the end, I’m very glad I stuck with this book and am grateful to you-all for providing the incentive to revisit a book I’d forgotten.
Ok, I will admit it was a 3 stars for me. I think partly it might have been the copy I was reading which was a tie in to the movie and the actors didn’t fit what I had in my mind.
I don’t know if I have a favorite character, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out their names and keep them straight.
I really didn’t think about the writing style but maybe that is also part of what threw me off.