Hood, Ann 1956-
Hood, Ann 1956-
Born December 9, 1956, in West Warwick, RI; daughter of Lloyd E. (an administrator) and Gloria (a tax auditor) Hood; married Bob Reiss (a writer), September 6, 1987. Education: University of Rhode Island, B.A., 1978; attended New York University, 1983-85.
Home—New York, NY. Agent—Gail Hochman, Brandt & Brandt Literary Agents Inc., 1501 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.
Writer and educator. Trans World Airlines (TWA), New York City, flight attendant, 1979-86; New York University, New York, NY, teacher of fiction writing.
Fellowship, Breadloaf Writer's Conference, 1987.
Somewhere off the Coast of Maine, Bantam (New York, NY), 1987.
Waiting to Vanish, Bantam (New York, NY), 1988.
Three-Legged Horse, Bantam (New York, NY), 1989.
Something Blue, Bantam (New York, NY), 1991.
Places to Stay the Night, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1993.
The Properties of Water, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1995.
Ruby, Picador (New York, NY), 1998.
Creating Character Emotions, Story Press (Cincinnati, OH), 1998.
Do Not Go Gentle: My Search for Miracles in a Cynical Time (memoir), Picador USA (New York, NY), 2000.
An Ornithologist's Guide to Life (short stories), W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2004.
Sections of Do Not Go Gentle have appeared in numerous anthologies, including The Best American Spiritual Writing and The Pushcart Prize collections; contributor of stories and essays to periodicals, including McCall's, Washington Post, Mademoiselle, Seventeen, Glamour, Self, Cosmopolitan, Fiction Network, Redbook, and Story.
A former flight attendant, Ann Hood is the author of several popular and critically-acclaimed novels. "Hood," wrote Donna Seaman in Booklist, "is one of those quietly wonderful, straight-ahead novelsits you can always depend on."
To be a writer was her childhood ambition; Hood once told CA, "Since I was a child, I wrote—stories, poems, even a ‘novel’ when I was eleven! Writing is like breathing to me; I don't have a choice—I just do it and love doing it. As a flight attendant, I carried a notebook with me and wrote on the subway out to the airport, on the plane, and in hotels on layovers. In fact, that's where I wrote Somewhere off the Coast of Maine."
Somewhere off the Coast of Maine, Hood's first published novel, revolves around the lives of three college friends. The story moves between the 1960s and 1980s, examining the Vietnam War generation of Suzanne, Elizabeth, and Claudia against the generation of their children. Claudia, a free spirit during her college days, attempts to come to terms with the tragic drowning death of her oldest son. Suzanne has become a yuppie, complete with a successful career and a waterfront penthouse. She wants to forget her involvement in antiwar protests and marijuana smoking; her daughter, Sparrow, wants to learn about those days, especially about her father, whom Suzanne never married. Elizabeth and Howard, on the other hand, have remained hippies, making pottery and eating health food. Living in this environment causes anxiety for their daughter, Rebekah, who desperately wants to be like her peers. Believing that her looks are to blame for her lack of popularity, Rebekah steals money from her parents to get a nose job. Toronto Globe and Mail contributor Douglas Hill noted that although the plot of Somewhere off the Coast of Maine has a soap-opera-like quality, "Hood has imagined a complex world of affection and disaffection that can surprise the reader and force involvement." Hood was especially praised for her portrayal of Rebekah and Sparrow and her ability to evoke the angst of adolescence. New York Times Book Review contributor Mary-Ann Tirone Smith concluded her review of Somewhere off the Coast of Maine by calling it an "accomplished novel."
Like Somewhere off the Coast of Maine, Hood's next novel to receive widespread critical attention, Something Blue, examines the lives of three friends. Katherine is preppy and conventional but, craving more passion in her life, she abandons her fiance on their wedding day. Lucy, who struggles as an illustrator while supporting herself as a tour guide, reluctantly agrees to take in Katherine, her former sorority sister. Julia, a professional house sitter, has a penchant for foreign men and avoids her past by creating new personas for herself. Generally considered to be both humorous and insightful, Something Blue focuses on the friendship between the three women as well as on each woman's search for happiness and identity.Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Elaine Kendall remarked that the author "manages a brisk, witty new take on the standard theme of college ex-roommates on their own in New York." Elinor Lipman, a New York Times Book Review contributor, praised Hood's "ability to capture characters in a matter of syllables and to conjure vividly and economically how they live, what they eat, whom they disdain." Kendall also hailed Hood's lighthearted approach: "Never solemn, Something Blue is crisp contemporary fun, putting the dilemmas of the thirty-something generation into proper perspective."
Ruby is the story of a young wife whose husband was accidentally killed by a car while jogging near their summer home in Rhode Island. Still not able to come to terms with her loss, Olivia is in the midst of selling the summer home a year later when she comes upon a pregnant fifteen-year-old—Ruby—who needs her help. Their relationship, noted a Publishers Weekly contributor is "first wary, then needy, finally loving," and forms "the substance of this rich and well-imagined story." According to Jo Manning in Library Journal: "Hood's deft characterizations and insight into tangled motivations make for brisk, realistic story-telling." Hood told Mallay Charters of Publishers Weekly that she based Ruby on recollections of her own adolescence. "It's from remembering so clearly that time in my own life," she stated. "I experienced myself as more dramatically troubled than I was, but I just remember how I felt."
Hood turns from fiction to the memoir for her book Do Not Go Gentle: My Search for Miracles in a Cynical Time. The book focuses primarily on the author's efforts to find a cure for her father when they learn he is dying from lung cancer. Told that the tumor is inoperable and incurable with modern medicine, the author decides to focus on finding a "miraculous" remedy, leading her to investigate various avenues, including a mud cure used by the Tewa Indians in New Mexico. During her search, the author also ruminates on her loving relationship with her father and recounts her spiritual growth. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book "as breathtaking as the poem after which it is named."
An Ornithologist's Guide to Life is a collection of the author's short stories focusing on love, family, death, depression, and the ability to accept people for who they are. "Hood is a seductive storyteller," wrote Donna Seaman in Booklist. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the author "a polished writer and a careful observer," adding that "she walks the popular funny-sad line very well." Amy Ford, writing in the Library Journal, noted: "These stories have bite."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 1995, Donna Seaman, review of The Properties of Water, p. 1728; July, 2004, Donna Seaman, review of An Ornithologist's Guide to Life, p. 1817.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, ON, Canada), August 15, 1987, Douglas Hill, review of Somewhere off the Coast of Maine.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1998; May 1, 2004, review of An Ornithologist's Guide to Life, p. 414.
Library Journal, June 15, 1998, Jo Manning, review of Ruby, p. 106; October 15, 1999, Dan Bogey, review of Ruby, p. 132; May 15, 2004, Amy Ford, review of An Ornithologist's Guide to Life, p. 117.
Los Angeles Times, January 4, 1991, Elaine Kendall, review of Something Blue.
New York Times Book Review, June 21, 1987, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, review of Somewhere off the Coast of Maine, p. 15; January 27, 1991, Elinor Lipman, review of Something Blue, p. 22; November 29, 1998, Megan Harlan, review of Ruby, p. 19.
People, January 21, 1991, Joanne Kaufman, review of Something Blue, p. 37.
Publishers Weekly, November 23, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of Something Blue, p. 55; November 30, 1992, review of Places to Stay the Night, p. 35; June 5, 1995, review of The Properties of Water, p. 51; June 22, 1998, review of Ruby, p. 81; October 12, 1998, Mallay Charters, "Ann Hood: A Career In Midair," interview with author, p. 53; November 27, 2000, review of Do Not Go Gentle: My Search for Miracles in a Cynical Time, p. 74; June 7, 2004, review of An Ornithologist's Guide to Life, p. 29.