Outside, an hour later, Quoyle at his fire, the aunt taking things out of the food box; eggs, a crushed bag of bread, butter, jam. Sunshine crowded against the aunt, her hands following, seizing packets. The child unwrapped the butter, the aunt spread it with a piece of broken wood for a knife, stirred the shivering eggs in the pan. The bread heel for the old dog. Bunny at the landwash casting peckled stones. As each struck, foaming lips closed over it. They sat beside the fire. The smoky stingo like an offering from some stone altar, the aunt thought, watched the smolder melt into the sky. Bunny and Sunshine leaned against Quoyle. Bunny ate a slice of bread rolled up, the jelly poised at the end like the eye of a toaster oven, watched the smoke gyre. “Dad. Why does smoke twist around?”

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

I added more text

I looked up the dictionary and stingo means strong ale or zest but these meanings don't seem make sense here. Are there any other meanings? It looks like it's the stingo that watches the smolder.

  • 1
    Why can't a strong beer (placed on a rock) look like an offering on a stone altar especially at the end of the day around a campfire?
    – Peter
    Feb 14, 2016 at 11:11
  • There was a dark beer sold in the US under the brand name Stingo, as I recall. But there's not enough context supplied here to say. Feb 14, 2016 at 12:12
  • 1
    But what is the subject of watched here? Is there a missing "as she"? Feb 14, 2016 at 12:19

1 Answer 1


Stingo is a strong beer that is often described as having a smoky flavor.

So, despite what is an apparent clumsy sentence, as pointed out in the comments, smoky stingo is referring beer.

It does not mean that it is being heated, but the author is simply juxtaposing a quality of the beer with the spiraling smoke from Quoyle's fire.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .