Monday, March 1, 2010

Anthropology by Dan Rhodes



Anthropology by Dan Rhodes is like nothing I've ever read. It's a collection of 101 stories, each only 101 words long. Intrigued? I sure was when I read about it at Savidge Reads last week. The intrigue turned to surprise when I found a copy at the library. After reading the collection, it became admiration.

All 101 stories are about love. They are arranged alphabetically by one word title, from "Anthropology" to "Word". It is amazing how, using just a few words, the gist of a relationship is conveyed. The stories are happy, sad, absurd, witty, and a couple could even be considered mildly offensive. Since they're short, I'll share two.


FAITHFUL
My girlfriend died. I was heartbroken, and vowed to remain faithful to her memory. At first I had no difficulty; my distress was so great that I couldn't even contemplate kissing anyone else. But, after a while, another girl started showing an interest. I resisted her advances. "You're very pretty," I told her, "but it's just too soon. I'm sorry." She wouldn't give up. She kept touching me, and fluttering her mascara-coated eyelashes. Eventually I yielded, and fell into her arms. The man asked us to leave. He said our rustling, slurping and giggling was upsetting the other mourners.


HONEST
January said it was important for couples to be completely honest with each other, and I agreed. I told her very honestly just how much time I spent thinking about her, that whenever I pictured the future she was always there by my side, and how even after three years together I sometimes couldn't help feeling a little nervous when she was around. She told me to stop. "That wasn't what I meant," she said. "I meant I just don' love you anymore." She looked away. "And the more I think about it, the more I realize I never really did."

So what do you think? Have you read anything like this? John introduced me to "flash fiction" a couple of weeks ago. The term was new to me, but I think these stories may even be too short to qualify.

Don't forget to check out Simon's review. (His edition has a much better cover.) This is one short story collection that should be read from cover to cover in a single sitting!
Short Story Monday is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.

22 comments:

  1. How clever! Thanks for bringing this to our awareness!

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  2. This sounds fascinating and I've never heard of it! Must add to my TBR :)

    Thanks for letting us know!

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  3. I LOVE this idea! Almost as much as I was fascinated by the book Six Word Memoirs. I have started summarizing my year or events with 6 words.

    Here is a youtube link:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBnP0DoGjRI

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  4. What the heck? This is like a self-imposed, horrific, nightmarish English assignment! Obviously the man has a wicked sense of humor if he forced these parameters upon himself, AND he pulled it off! I love it.

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  5. This definitely sounds unlike anything I've ever read. And I see he has a dark sense of humour :P

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  6. What a neat idea and I loved "Faithful." I may have to see if our library has this one.

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  7. What do I think? I'm in love with these!!! Some of our students here at school did what the teacher termed, Nano-fiction. They had to tell a story in 55 words!! I'm so looking for a copy of this!

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  8. These stories are really short for short stories but they are fun to read. I'm going to see if my library has the book.

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  9. I am so pleased that you enjoyed this so much. Its always a little worrying when you rave about a book to the blogging ether and then know people might get it and worry what they might think, now you need to read Gold by Rhodes.

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  10. It reminds me of 55 Fiction, which was started by our local weekly independent paper.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/55_Fiction

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  11. Cool! And the stories don't seem 'squozed' into Rhodes' self-imposed format. Will have to look for this one. Thanks!

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  12. Wonderful! I especially like the first one. Darkly funny.

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  13. Rhapsodyinbooks - Isn't it clever? And then to write 100 more variations on the same theme...

    Kals - It really is fascinating. Hope it crosses your path one of these days.

    Kim - That video was great! Thanks for the link. I've heard of Six Word Memoirs and was happy to see that my library has it. I'm next on the hold list.

    Sandy - "a self-imposed, horrific, nightmarish English assignment" - LOL, that's exactly what it sounds like!! And he sure does pull it off!

    Nymeth - A very dark sense of humor, indeed! There are several more along that line.

    Carolsnotebook - "Faithful" was one of my favorites. I hope your library has a copy!

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  14. Staci - Isn't this great? I like the term nano-fiction. It seems so typical of this age of twitter, online journalism, and shortened attention spans. Hope you can track down a copy.

    Margot - These are the shortest short stories I've ever seen!!

    Savidgereads - This was just so creative... and I certainly know that feeling of worrying what other bloggers will think after you rave! My library system doesn't have a copy of Gold, but I will keep an eye out at the bookstore. Thanks again for bringing this to my attention!

    Softdrink - That is so cool! Sounds like your paper is where the teachers at Staci's school got the idea for their assignment. Thanks for the link.

    DS - This is definitely worth taking a look at... not at all 'squozed' into the format (great word!).

    John Mutford - "Faithful" was one of my favorites. I think you'd love this book!

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  15. JoAnn, Thanks for posting the link to Simon's review. After reading your review I wanted to read more about this book. OMG, the story Beauty, which he posted had me laughing hysterically. I truely enjoyed both of your reviews and must get my hands on this book. I am off to see if my library has it. I read 2 more T.C. Boyle stories this week.

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  16. So awesome! I remember hearing of a book written entirely without the letter "e"; I'd like to read that and this and similar books.

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  17. This sounds so interesting! I definitely want to check this one out.

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  18. Teddy Rose - I'm so glad you liked these ultra-short stories. Hope you can find he book...this was the only copy in my entire library system. So glad you're enjoying Boyle - he's a favorite of mine.

    Hazra - How in the world could you write an entire book without the letter e?? Not sure I could get through one sentence - lol!

    Dana - This is definitely worth taking a look at!

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  19. When I took a fiction writing class last year, I was first introduced to flash fiction and I didn't really know what to make of it. It's crazy to me to think that a story can be told in so few words, but it can! Sometimes, it really works. The author gives just enough to really get your mind whirling. These stories seem to be doing that very thing. Definitely going to look into checking out this book.

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  20. Justicejenniferreads - I think this is such an interesting concept... being able to tell a story in so few words! I'd be curious to know what you think of this collection. Hope you can find it...

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  21. What fun! I'm going to see if my library has it.

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  22. Stacybuckeye - Oh, I hope they do! Will be curious to hear what you think of this.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

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