The Shipping News

Posted by on Thursday, August 31st, 2006

I’ve let the book reviews slide for far too long, and I’m all out of excuses.  The festival has happened, and I am no longer president (yayyyy); I’ve gone on vacation and come back, and no longer feel responsible for providing all of the Celts with clothing; and, er, the sky isn’t falling.

The Shipping News by E Annie Proulx and The Shipping News directed by Lasse Hallstrom

I have absolutely no idea why it took me so long to read this book.  I generally try to keep up with Pulitzer winners.  And there is knitting content.  And most of it is set in Newfoundland.  I have a crush on Canada in general and Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton in particular. 

The fact that the copy I have is a soft-cover might have been part of the delay.  For a while I was burning through my hardbacks because they’re easier to prop open and read while I knit.  But reading on the subway is an entirely different beast, and  soft-covers are easier on my hands.  I can’t be the only one who chooses books this way.

As usual, the book is infinitely better than the movie.  Proulx’s prose is exquisitely dense, and purposely journalistic.  It crackles.  Proulx leaves us to imagine the agonies and joys that Quoyle and the other characters experience, because she knows we don’t need extra help.  I love a writer who knows when to leave things out–when to just let a reader fill in the blanks. 

And the knots.  And the history.  And the dialog.  Delicious.

The whole novel is a poem.  And an object lesson on love–filial love, romantic love, self-love.  And Proulx examines the wild idea that even homely people deserve love.

Which is why the film pisses me off.  I love Kevin Spacey, and I love Julianne Moore.  But dammit, they’re both beautiful people.  We know that beautiful people get to find romantic love.  How about folks that are warty or awkward or plump?  Huh?  Where is their love in this film?

The saving grace of the film is Pete Postlethwaite’s portrayal of Tert Card.  Because he didn’t play Tert Card so much as he played this jerk I used to work with, the Albatross.  Thanks Pete.  You even got the bow-tie correct.  You are a master. I hope it wasn’t too terrible. 

Filed in Books,Film | 3 responses so far

3 Responses to “The Shipping News”

  1. KnittnLissaon 31 Aug 2006 at 9:37 pm 1

    It wore a BOW TIE??? That’s just so wrong. Tie THIS, albatross!

  2. Jenon 01 Sep 2006 at 11:25 am 2

    Amen to all. I still love the movie, though. Cate Blanchett I love most.

  3. Annieon 06 Sep 2006 at 10:58 pm 3

    I need to read this book! It’s been on a list of books I’ve wanted to read for forever!!

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