The Shipping News is a novel about Newfoundland written by E. Annie Proulx (Scribners), an off-Islander who states frankly in her disclaimer that "the Newfoundland in this book, although salted with grains of truth, is an island of invention." Nevertheless readers who insist on a Newfoundland to believe in if not the Newfoundland they know will be disappointed to find in these pages very little of either such place. The island of invention in this book is a dreary but quaint outcropping occupied by a dreary but quaint bunch of characters distinguishable one from the other only by their eccentricities, but all of whom—men, women and children—talk like no one in literature has talked since R. L. Stevenson gave the world Long John Silver. The plot is conventional and its grains of truth mildly racist and totally repugnant: an inept newspaperman finds new life and interesting mysteries amongst the ghoulish Newfie inhabitants in a harsh landscape—and not good enough to save this award-winning book from falling away forever into the pit filled with books that ought never to have been published. Each chapter is introduced by a haunting quotation from the 1944 edition of The Ashley Book of Knots, a device much to be envied, for these quotations are beautiful and truly make a book in themselves.