A modern classic, by a peerless storyteller Jul 3, 2008
Annie Proulx is more than just a great short-story writer: She's one of the best authors alive today. Whether you read her short-fiction collections (like "Close Range: Wyoming Stories," which includes the story "Brokeback Mountain") or her novels (like "Accordion Crimes"), you're in for a remarkable experience.
And "The Shipping News" is absolutely remarkable indeed. My experience with this book was much different than that of fellow reviewer "emmagrace," so I respectfully disagree and offer up my opinion.
To me, "The Shipping News" is one of the most innovative and groundbreaking books of the last 25 years. Proulx utilizes a writing style in this book that is unique and brilliant--short, incomplete sentences pairing unexpected word combinations, as well as her now-trademark penchant for the sparse, the desperate, and the unexpected. It's not always an easy read. But the challenge pays off via the story she tells. Even the greatest literature could be reduced to a "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, Romeo and Juliet commit suicide together" type synopsis utilized by "emmagrace" in her review. For me, however, I loved Proulx's story and her characters--the odd, quirky, totally original protagonist Quoyle being a personal favorite from among all the books I've read. Besides, the biggest plot-line payoff is on the last pages of the book, so if you don't finish the novel you definitely miss the point of the entire journey.
"The Shipping News" won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and The National Book Award, among other prestigious awards. It deserved these honors, my five stars in this review, and your attention, if you're looking for an engaging story, original characters, and an author at the top of her game.