The Nation by Terry Pratchett
Never thought I would use the bad ratings. But today’s the day.
Terry Pratchett’s The Nation gets a 0 for me, for the fact that into the first chapter I was disinterested. Perhaps it is too incoherent, too bizarre, it talks about dolphin, about a ship and its crew, about the end of the world, and I don’t get it. Too abstract, it is supposed to be a children book or Young Adult, and Pratchett had written many books, most notably his discworld series, and I have seen two commuters reading his book on a train, there are great reviews from Amazon… but I just don’t get it.
I am sure his literary career has been successful. Pratchett was the UK’s best-selling author of the 1990s, and as of December 2007 has sold more than 55 million books worldwide, with translations made into 36 languages. He is currently the second most-read writer in the UK, and seventh most-read non-US author in the US. In 2001 he won the Carnegie Medal for his children’s novel The Amazing Maurice and his educated Rodents. Click here, for more of Terry Pratchett.
Shipping News by Annie Proulx
The book is the second novel of Annie Proulx, and the winner of the Pulitzer prize for fiction and National Book Award for fiction in 1994. The book is also the winner for the Irish Times International Prize and was made into a film in 2001. Her short story “Brokeback Mountain” was adapted as an Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe Award-winning major motion picture released in 2005. She won the PEN / Faulkner Award for Fiction for her first novel, Postcards.
So I thought I should give her book a try. By first chapter, I was irritated. By the second I was deflated. It talks about The story centers on Quoyle, a newspaper worker from upstate New York whose father had emigrated from Newfoundland. Shortly after the suicide of his parents, Quoyle’s unfaithful and abusive wife Petal and her lover leave town. Days later, she sells their daughters to a ‘black market adoption agency’ for the sum of $6,000. Soon thereafter, Petal and her lover are killed in a car accident; the young girls are located by police and returned to Quoyle. Despite the safe return of his daughters, Quoyle’s life is collapsing and his paternal aunt, Agnis Hamm, convinces him to return to their ancestral home of Newfoundland for a new beginning. This ancestral home is situated on Quoyle’s Point.
He obtains work as a car-accident reporter for the Gammy Bird, local newspaper of the town of Killick-Claw. The Gammy Bird’s editor also asks him to document the shipping news, arrivals and departures from the local port, which soon grows into Quoyle’s signature articles on boats of interest in the harbour. Quoyle gradually makes friends within the community, learns about his own troubled family background, and begins a relationship with a local woman, Wavey. Quoyle’s growth in confidence and emotional strength, as well as his ability to be comfortable in a loving relationship, become the main focus for the book. A series of deep and disturbing secrets about his ancestors emerge in strange ways.
I am sure it is a good story. But the book at the start talks incessantly about knots and boats and ships and weather and trashy news articles, after two or three false starts, I gave up. There are many good books to read, I don’t have to read this just because it is a prize winner.
After two stressful weeks at work, it might have culminated to the point where I am not able to take in any new books. It is especially strange, because usually I would persevere and read every book that landed on my living space. Perhaps these two books is not the right book to read at a time like this or perhaps some tolerance threshold of stress had been hit…. Hmm.. I abandoned these two books and moved on to Tutankhamun, which holds my attention. 🙂
I am sure both of them are fine writers, but it’s just not for me.