1993 - The Shipping News
I'm going to keep this post and the next short and sweet so I can get caught up again (because life). The Shipping News by Annie Proulx won the Pulitzer Prize for good reason. It is incredibly well-crafted prose. Newfoundland as a place lives and breathes as much as the supremely original characters. I must say, reading this one in January in Minnesota was anything but an escape. Here's the description of a freak May snowstorm that shows how intimately familiar the author must be with harsh winter conditions:
"Shrieking wind. The bitter coffee trembled.
'Weather,' the man said to Quoyle balanced in the doorway with his damp cups.
He bent against air. Cracking sky, a mad burst. The sign above the gas pump, a hand-painted circle of sheet metal, tore away, sliced over the store. The man came out, the door jumped from his hand, wrenched. Wind slung Quoyle against the pumps. The aunt's startled face in the car window. Then the gusts bore out of the east, shooting the blizzard at them.
Slick road; visibility nil beyond the hood ornament. All dissolved in spinning particles. The speedometer needle at fifteen and still they skidded and jerked. The aunt leaned this way and that, hand on the dash, fingers widespread, as though by leaning she kept their balance.
'Dad, are we scared?' said Sunshine.
'No, honey. It's an adventure.' Didn't want them to grow up timid. The aunt snorted." p. 51
The main character, Quoyle, is a man who has known nothing but disappointment. The book follows him as he tries to start again in Newfoundland with his daughters and his aunt and their ancient and dilapidated family property on the coast. It is acerbic and darkly funny and complete.
Similar books I would recommend:
- The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
- The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston
- Sweetland by Michael Crummey
Keep turning the page,