What Can’t Be Undone

Author: dee Hobsbawn-Smith
ISBN: 9781771870641 Categories: Fiction, Family Life, Literary, Short Stories (single author)
Publication Date: 15 March, 2015
Dimensions: 6 x 8.62"

In her first collection of short fiction, dee Hobsbawn-Smith creates protagonists struggling to navigate the troubles common to life everywhere, including children attempting to make their parents proud, the collapse of romantic relationships, and dealing with death and loss. Her stories are rife with the disasters of homelessness, domestic violence, and child abuse, and expose the difficulties that arise in relationships between brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and parents and children.
What Can’t Be Undone is a collection anchored in the Western Canadian landscape, and the natural imagery which has become synonymous to the area reigns supreme. These stories are powerfully influenced by local colour. Horses’ hooves echo from coulee walls, bluejays, crows, and eagles announce the seasons, and coyotes wail from distant valleys as Hobsbawn-Smith travels with her protagonists across rolling prairies, unforgiving mountain ranges, and along coastal highways.
Hobsbawn-Smith introduces readers to characters of all ages, from a teenager navigating her crush on an older man in “Exercise Girls” to the recently widowed seamstress who rediscovers her zest for life in “Needful Things”. Loss is explored on various levels, from the ending of friendships and romantic relationships in stories such as “The Good Husband” and “Fallen Sparrow”, to a mother’s paralyzing fear of her children’s death in “The Quinzie”. Hobsbawn-Smith combines keen observation with an unflinching eye on her characters’ flaws to bring into painful focus the challenges of coming to terms with loss.

About the Author

dee Hobsbawn-Smith grew up in a gypsy Air Force family. Her award-winning poetry, essays, fiction, and journalism have appeared in Canadian, American, and International literary journals, books, newspapers, magazines, and anthologies including The Malahat Review, Gastronomica, and Western Living. Her first book of poetry, Wildness Rushing In, was published by Hagios Press in 2014. She recently completed her M.F.A. in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan, and she is an alumna of the Sage Hill Writing Experience. What Can’t Be Undone is her first collection of short stories. Hobsbawn-Smith lives west of Saskatoon.


“dee Hobsbawn-Smith’s stories begin when love and comfort have faded, or the fatal accident has happened, the fire has burned the house, loved ones or brutal ones are already in their graves. What is left to write about? I’d say a whole lot. Hobsbawn-Smith’s characters are not life’s victims but life’s bludgeoned survivors. Like their earthy forebears, these modern descendants learn to live with regret, and they keep on keeping on. This kind of gutting it out is the very definition of Western grit, and these fine stories are parables of resiliency.” ?David Carpenter, author of Welcome to Canada

“With these carefully crafted stories, dee Hobsbawn-Smith reminds us of why we tell stories at all: to entertain, to reflect, and to render our lives and relationships in a way that is simultaneously simpler and more complex.” ? Johanna Skibsrud, winner of the ScotiaBank Giller Prize for The Sentimentalists
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