After All!

By Margaret Goldik

A review of After All! by Hugh Hood

Published on October 1, 2003

After All!
Hugh Hood

The Porcupine's Quill
$16.95
paper
160pp
0-88984-258-2

Hugh Hood died in 2000. This volume collects the last of his stories, in sequence. On first read they seem almost simple, thanks to Hood’s elegant style. But the intelligence so obvious behind the stories won’t let them be absorbed or forgotten quickly.

“Bit Parts” describes the dreams of an unnamed woman – she dreams of “a collar, a leg,” and awakens to the realization that “Somebody was dreaming her.” Finally she and the other dreamer meet, and, after the profound intimacy of walking in and out of each other’s dreams, seek the intimacy of living together. And then he loses interest. “No more dreaming. Dreams are the harbingers of the future and there is no future for her.”

This heartbreaking story of intimacy is followed by “Assault of the Killer Volleyballs” – in which volleyballs escape from an attic (killing the narrator’s parents in the process) and then bounce into town, leaving devastation in their wake. In “A Catastrophic Situation,” an aging artist and his granddaughter closet themselves in his studio and systematically destroy all his “inferior” works. Hood gives us not only a picture of a family, but of the nature of art and its ownership. In all his stories, whether fanciful or straightforward, there is the master’s touch. mRb

Margaret Goldik is a former editor of the Montreal Review of Books.

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