Hugh (John Blagdon) Hood Kildare Dobbs - Essay

Kildare Dobbs

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[It's] evident from the stories in [Hood's] first book, Flying A Red Kite, that he has knocked about a good deal in the world outside the universities…. One of them, "After the Sirens", not the best of the stories but certainly a rigorously imagined and professionally executed vision of nuclear war, made it in the big league of Esquire. It is a tribute to the genuineness of Hood's talent that his work appealed just as much to ordinary educated people as to fellow academics and to more self-consciously literary readers…. The patient accumulation of sensuous detail induces recognition of place as well as of people. Toronto is here ("Recollections of the Works Department"), Montreal is here ("Flying a Red Kite"), and in the magnificent "Three Halves of a House", set on the Canadian shore of the St. Lawrence near Gananoque, there's a continental feeling, a sense of the whole of Canada. It is this aspect of the stories that patriotic reviewers are apt to seize on, rightly feeling that our own lives are that much more real for being brought into a context of art and imagination, that our country is the more unquestionably present for having been seen by a real writer and set down forever in print. But Hood isn't writing advertising copy for the Canadian Way. His stories are about life and death and eternity…. (p. 72)

[Hood] writes as confidently in the third person as in the first and with as much inwardness about women as about men. In form, his stories follow the shape of a meditation rather than a plot, and he has taken pains, as he hints in one story, to master the English sentence. In this he resembles American writers like Updike rather than any Canadian predecessor. (p. 73)

Kildare Dobbs, "Memory Transfigured" (reprinted by permission of the author), in Canadian Literature, No. 16, Spring, 1963, pp. 72-3.