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.
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.
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.