An Ornithologist's Guide to Life: Stories


Short stories

Hood’s short story "Total Cave Darkness," about an alcoholic woman who runs away with a Protestant minister nine years younger than she is, appeared in The Paris Review in 2000. It is also the opening story in her collection of stories An Ornithologist's Guide To Life. The title story appeared in Glimmer Train in 2004 about a young girl who slowly discovers her mother is having an affair with their neighbor. Her stories have also appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, Good Housekeeping, Story, Five Points, and others.[8]


Hood is the best-selling author of ten novels, most recently The Obituary Writer, in which she explores the theme of grief and "the remedies that can ease, if never entirely banish" it, and in which she explores gender roles and complications of romantic love.[9] Her previous novel, The Knitting Circle, also explored the theme of grief.[10]


Hood’s best-selling memoir Comfort: A Journey Through Grief (W. W. Norton & Company, 2008), chronicling the death of her five-year-old daughter Grace and her subsequent search for healing, was named one of the top ten non-fiction books of 2008 by Entertainment Weekly[11] and was a New York Times Editor's Choice.[12]

Do Not Go Gentle: My Search For Miracles in a Cynical Time (Picador, 1999) follows Hood’s travels to Chimayo, New Mexico in search of a miracle cure for her father’s lung cancer. The dirt at El Santuario de Chimayo, a Roman Catholic church, is believed to have healing properties and thousands flock to the site each year. Her father’s tumor did disappear, but he later died from complications from chemotherapy. Hood initially wrote about this experience in an essay for Doubletake magazine. That essay went on to win a Pushcart Prize. Hood’s editor at Picador urged her to turn it into a book.[13]

She is the editor of the anthology Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting (W. W. Norton & Company, 2013), in which her essay "Ten Things I Learned From Knitting" appears.


Hood is a faculty member in the MFA in Creative Writing program at The New School in New York City.[14] She also teaches at New York University.[15] Hood has also taught at the Eckerd College Writers’ Conference,[16] The Maui Writers’ Conference,[17] The Bread Load Writers’ Conference,[18] among others.

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