Thursday, 20 August 2009

More Than Words

Finished The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx yesterday.

Beautiful novel. Achingly so.

The emotions experienced by the characters in this novel are so vibrant and heartfelt, yet they are so difficult for the characters to express. It seems to be the Newfoundland way to hide one's feelings behind simple and stark language.

Love, betrayal, death, abuse - all of these are experienced by Quoyle and his fellow townsmen and women, one way or the other, but they find it very difficult to communicate how they deal with these trials and tribulations.

Emotions are handled by gesture and looks, not words. This makes the expression by words all the more profound when they are eventually expressed.

The rough beauty and harsh nature of the Newfoundland coast is a perfect backdrop to this restrained and touching story. The relentless weather and unforgiving coastline has made its residents resolute and determined, but emotional and passionate as well.

I loved a particular line from the novel - it is in the context of Billy Pretty's (a lonely and elderly Newfoundland bachelor) thoughts - "All he knew was that women were shaped like leaves and men fell." Sigh.

Up next: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

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