How to make seal-flipper pie

Janette Turner Hospital

  • The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
    Fourth Estate, 337 pp, £14.99, November 1993, ISBN 1 85702 205 X

‘The land God gave to Cain’ was how Jacques Cartier, sailing under patronage of the French king in 1534, described what came to be Canada’s province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Cain is exactly the kind of character who interests Annie Proulx, and Cain’s home turf is the natural setting for her fiction. Cain more or less shows up, under the name of Loyal Blood, as the protagonist of her first novel Postcards. (Blood is a Vermont dairy farmer who accidentally kills his girlfriend and has to spend the rest of his life on the lam, keeping in tenuous touch with his hard-scrabble family by sending postcards.) The land God gave to Cain is the site of Proulx’s second novel, The Shipping News.

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