Hugh (John Blagdon) Hood Robert Fulford - Essay

Robert Fulford

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

This man is French Canadian, unmarried, middle-aged, rich, attractive, intellectual. He's a professor at the University of Montreal, and he drives fast, expensive cars. He's passionately federalist and he scorns both separatists and nationalists. Furthermore, he's just decided to go to Ottawa to save Canada.

A profile, of course, of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Right? Wrong. The man in question is Roger Talbot, the hero—or at least one of the two heroes—of Hugh Hood's new novel, A Game of Touch. (p. 47)

[Few] readers will fail to notice the resemblance immediately. Indeed, A Game of Touch looks like the first Trudeau novel, the first sign that Trudeau may have begun to possess Canada's literary imagination as he has possessed its political imagination.

This implies a certain audacity on Hood's part, but that's nothing beside the bravado he displays by putting at the core of his book the very stuff of Canadian politics itself: federal-provincial relations. Hood's Roger is no cool above-the-battle hero, no charismatic saint of the television age: he's an untiring part-time bureaucrat whose most passionate desire is to figure out how to make Canada run more or less to everyone's satisfaction. (pp. 47, 49)

The quintessential Canadian hero comes to life at last, fighting his way to mythic stature not through Greek islands or western plains but through the thickets of...

(The entire section is 420 words.)