You'll Catch Your Death: New Stories

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The Porcupine's Quill, 1992 - Fiction - 161 pages
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Animals of all kinds, from a lovesick hippopotamus to a valuable pair of Chelsea dogs make an appearance in Hugh Hood's delightful new collection of short stories You'll Catch Your Death. But mostly one is aware of the birds. As the narrator in Hood's opening story observes, `what I saw was birds and birds and again birds'. Mosaic renderings of peacocks and cranes, a cage of cruelly imprisoned pigeons, a lorikeet named Ronnie Reagan, a couple of stolen cockatoos and a bestselling book entitled `Caring Parenting While Birding' each play a role in these stories, along with a cast of eccentric bird lovers.

Amusing, thoughtful, and by turns poignant, the thirteen never-before-published stories in You'll Catch Your Death are Hugh Hood at his eclectic best. `More Birds' and `You'll Catch Your Death' explore mankind's tenuous relationship with the animal world. `Disappearing Creatures of Various Kinds' reveals some of the mysterious ways in which humans reach out and communicate with other living creatures. On the other hand `Deanna and the Ayatollah' invents a fateful encounter between Khomeini and film star Deanna Durbin, while `Getting Funding' is a hilarious send-up of Canadian arts funding and the CBC.

 

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Contents

More Birds
9
Getting Funding
21
Third Time Unlucky
31
Deanna and the Ayatollah
45
Disappearing Creatures of Various Kinds
89
Youll Catch Your Death
151
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About the author (1992)

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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