Saturday, May 4, 2013


A favourite quote should really be one of those inspirational lines, something that swells the heart or makes the mind leap into action. I have books filled with phrases I've purloined and written in or quite literally cut and paste (sorry Moll Flanders - you were already falling apart at the seams). These are lines from books and poems, from newspapers and online articles, from posters and billboards, from other people's mouths and religiously (or not so religiously) transcribed. Some are about love and family, others about being in the world and travelling, some about doing and action and creativity. Some are about sadness and passing time and death and remembering. All of them mean something, make me feel something.

But the quote that stays in my mind, that resonates, that makes me laugh, that resonates and is attached to family and memories is a silly one. Just a throw-away line from a book that won Pulitzer and probably a few other awards. In E Annie Proulx's The Shipping News, the bumbling, big-chinned (anti)hero Quoyle starts to think in newspaper headlines, to try and make himself a better journalist. And amidst that strange tale is this:
'Dog Farts Fell Family of Four'
That's it. This is what I remember.

My stepmother and I shared this novel so many years ago and shared laughter and laughing tears over this line. And when I became a journalist and wrote headline and news stories and spoke over the airwaves of death and disaster and then tried to make it all better with meaningless happy zoo stories and celebrity happenings, I had this line in the back of my head, softening the garbage bin feeling that was gathering the longer I did my job.

Two years ago, we went to see Proulx talk about her latest book, and I bought a new copy of The Shipping News and had it signed after queuing for half an hour and rifling through the first half of the book to find the exact phrase I was looking for.


  1. I love this cute and what it means to you. It's so cute!!

  2. Stopping by from the link up! Isn't it strange the things that stick with us sometimes? Enjoyed reading the story behind the quote that you picked :)


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