After All!

Front Cover
The Porcupine's Quill, 2003 - Fiction - 155 pages

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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About the author (2003)

While he is best known as a writer of short stories, Hugh Hood's fourth novel, You Can't Get There from Here (1972), exhibits his usual skill at characterization, and a concern with descriptive prose, dialogue, and ironic humor. Hood's humor features universal themes and a strong moral tone, the latter being a product of the author's Roman Catholic sensibility. You Can't Get There from Here is a satirical look at multinational corporations and philanthropists who descend on third world countries. His several collections of short stories include August Nights, Flying a Red Kite (1962), and None Genuine without This Signature. The subject matter of these stories "shapes a chronicle of our age," and their "didactic impulse" and "moral vision" reflect what Hood himself calls "the primal guarantee of the actual, the authentic certificate of its existence which God provides, the signature in the heart of the existent." The first volume in Hood's proposed cycle of 12 novels appeared in 1975: The Swing in the Garden. It was followed by: A New Athens (1977), Reservoir Ravine (1979), Black and White Keys (1982), The Scenic Art (1984), The Motor Boys in Ottawa (1986), and Tony's Book (1988). Under the collective title of The New Age, these novels trace through a character named Matthew Goderich the connected histories of a man and a family from 1880 to 2000. Hood was born in Toronto and received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University. He has taught at the University of Montreal.

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