After All! contains the last of Hugh Hood's short stories, seventeen in all, written between September 1991 and December 1994. It was his practice to intersperse publication of short stories, essays, or other materials between the appearance of the individual novels in his ambitious series The New Age / Le nouveau sič;cle, which appeared at two- or three-year intervals between 1975 and 2000. This collection should have been published in 1996 or 1998, but because of failing health in the later 1990s, he devoted all his energies to the completion of the New Age series, and thus never got around to presenting the typescript to a publisher. (Hood died, sadly, a few weeks before the publication of the final volume of the New Age series.) The stories in this collection, however, are not only complete in themselves but complete as a collection. They are presented in the order in which they were written, which was the order in which he wanted them to appear.
Like his earlier collections (from Flying a Red Kite, 1987, onwards), these stories encompass a remarkable variety of tones. They include humorous stories of everyday life, fantasies, problem stories, satires on the excesses of modern civilization, documentary sketches, stories that amuse, stories that entertain, stories that set one thinking, stories that disturb. All are written with the stylistic elegance, and filled with the inquiring intelligence, that we have come to expect from Hood. Though written in the last decade of his life, they show him at the top of his form. Here we experience the flowering of one of the most skillful and probing Canadian practitioners of the short story as a subtle and concentrated literary form.
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Assault of the Killer Volleyballs
Swedes in the Night
The Bug in the Mug
A Catastrophic Situation
There Are More Peasants Than Critics
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The Messages Are the Message