Sunday, 14 October 2012

111/111 - Anthropology by Dan Rhodes

So here I am at the 111th book! I got a copy of Anthropology for free with a copy of Waterstones Books Quarterly magazine a couple of years ago. My original copy of the magazine came with nothing in it, but then I saw that in Brighton they had copies with a free book included, so I went for that one.

This book is a series of vignettes about love. It contains 101 stories and each of them is like its own little joke. They are all about the narrator and his various love affairs. Some of them seem to contain the same girls as other stories, but in general the narratives seem to mix together. Each one is odd, sweet and funny in its own way, and a lot of them are a little sad, too. The narrator is mostly insecure and clingy, and occasionally cruel. The girlfriends are usually cruel or a bit dimwitted, but the stories are all told with a mixture of affection, desperation, anxiety and lust. I have quoted a few of my favourites below:

Horsebox - Although she's nearly twenty, Opal has an imaginary horse. When we met I was happy to join her in three-day-eventing on her lawn; jumping over tyres and saying 'giddy-up'. Now I'm starting to wish she would find another interest. So far this month I've bought her a riding hat, boots and a crop. She keeps suggesting we get a horsebox. 'Go on,' she says. 'Blaze needs one to get around in.' They're really expensive, but she looks so incredible in jodhpurs and with her hair up in a net that I'm finding it harder and harder to resist.

Kissing - Since the moment we met, my wife and I have not stopped kissing. I'm Catholic and she's Islamic, so there were some complications. Throughout the delicate negotiations with our families, our lips did not pass for a moment. Eventually they accepted our love, so we married. We walked, tongues tangled, down the aisle. Now, after six years of marriage, we are still fused. We had our first child without stopping kissing for the conception, pregnancy or birth. Our lips are four broken scabs, and our chins always covered in blood, but we will never stop. We are far too much in love.

Memories - My girlfriend and I have been together for so long that every day is some kind of anniversary. Whenever she gets home, she finds me waiting with a surprise, candle-lit meal. 'What is it today?' she asks, yawning after a tiring day at work. I gently stroke her face, and tell her that it's exactly three years since I thought up her pet name, Dimples, two years since our first pillow fight, or just one year since the night we tried to count the stars. She doesn't talk much during these meals. She's far too busy treasuring those golden memories.

Video - After Firefly left me I presented her with a video recording I had made of myself, so if she ever felt down she could be reminded that there was someone out there who loved her more than anything in the world. I met her in the street, and asked her if she ever watched it. She said she did, and that it always cheered her up. She told me she particularly liked the part where I kissed and caressed the tiny black skirt she had left behind, and cried like a new-born baby. She said that always made her smile.

A lot of these, with their half-punchlines, reminded me of Pictures For Sad Children. I liked the randomness and the quirkiness of each little snippet. I would say that this was an enjoyable read. Lovely to read through and quick to get through and although they were each very short, they were satisfying. I'd like to look at more of Dan Rhodes' books and maybe read another one.

Next: no definite plans yet, but there is some time for reflection coming up.

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