In her first collection of short fiction dee Hobsbawn-Smith creates protagonists struggling to navigate the domestic troubles common to life everywhere, including children attempting to make their parents proud, the disintegrating of romantic relationships, and dealing with death and loss. Her stories are rife with the disasters of homelessness, domestic violence, and child abuse, as she exposes the difficulties that arise in relationships between brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and parents and children. Hobsbawn-Smith's keen observation and the unflinching eye which she directs towards her characters' flaws bring the land and its inhabitants into painful focus as they grapple with loss.
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 strongly informed by local colour. Horses' hooves echo from coulee walls, blue jays, 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.
"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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