Shipping News

October 30, 2004

E. Annie Proulx
The shipping news
Hingham, MA : Wheeler, 1994.
Narrated performance by Paul Hecht.

This might be a good book, but it is not a book I wanted to listen to. I got into disc 2 of 11, with our hero finally making it to Newfoundland, and I found that I just had no desire for more.

On the good side, Proulx writes well with a lot of moments where a turn of phrase or a metaphor jumps out and grabs you. But, many of her characters talk alike, almost in shorthand, and Hecht reads their lines alike as well. It may be intentional that Diamond, the African-American copyeditor, and the Aunt, born in Newfoundland and all pale white and blotchy, talk in exactly the same rhythms and with exactly the same trick of phrasing, but it bothered me.

It is an effective way of phrasing: lots of clauses; strung together like lumps of coal; crossing and re-crossing their sounds. I liked it; it kept me reading, listening, as things moved past me. But, as you can see from this parody, it gets old quickly.

I might try this again in paper rather than as an audiobook. I kept wanting to skip ahead a bit, to get past the bit where Quoyle is being a great lump of a nebbish and into the bits where he changes and evolves. I suppose I have little patience for unhappy books, and the start is so over-the-top unhappy that it must have been meant to be funny.

Not a good audiobook.

Posted by Red Ted at October 30, 2004 12:16 PM | TrackBack
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