The friendly, English-speaking extraterrestrial you run into outside your house is asking you to recommend the one book, movie, or song that explains what humans are all about. What do you pick?
The Shipping News
By Annie Proulx
Oh please, for gods sake, DON”T SEE THE HIDEOUS MOVIE based on this book.
Our hero, Quoyle, is an odd guy, doesn’t quite fit in with his surroundings. He is large and ungainly with an adulterous wife and two emotionally disturbed daughters, but he does the best he can with what he has. Just like the rest of us who have our burdens to bear, he gets through one day at a time.
After his wife’s death, his aunt convinces him to move with the girls to their ancestral home in Nova Scotia to a large house, that was dragged by his fore-bearers to a high rock, overlooking the ocean and strapped down to keep the strong winds from throwing it into the water.
There, he thrives, for the most part, even finding love. He gains his bearings and swims as gracefully through day to day life like sea walrus does in the ocean. In the right environment, we are all successful, it is just a matter of figuring out where we should be.
The ancestral house is the past that clings to the aunt, she has many skeletons in the closets of the house that weigh her soul down. The house is symbolic of all the baggage we drag along. When the straps break that hold the house onto the rock, it slides off into the ocean. Gone. No more oppressive guilt or hurt that keeps us from going forward.
This is an extremely brief synopsis, read it for yourself and tell me what you got out of it.
Annie Proulx is a gifted story writer who really catches the essences of what it means to be human. There are many side stories in this book, funny and dark, uplifting and sad that tosses you through the story like a bird on a wave. All of her books are great, thoughtful reads on what it means to be human.
Winner of the 1993 National Book Award and the 1994 Pulitzer Prize.