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Anthropology: and a hundred other stories Paperback – 1 Feb 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; New edition edition (1 Feb 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841151947
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841151946
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.8 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,313,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Dan Rhodes' first book Anthropology consists of 101 stories, each around 120 words in length, and all working highly surreal variations around a single theme: relationships. A simple enough idea which is superlatively executed--the range and inventiveness of the texts within the strict format reveal a writer of formidable imaginative powers, able to move with ease from wit to farcical comedy to genuinely heartfelt evocations of loss and love. Each story is almost like a condensed novel, a distilled narrative that focuses on a particular moment, gesture or conversation, humorously unravelling the fragile structures and barely disguised inequalities that characterise the détente between the sexes.

If the stories are individually quirky, bizarre and amusing, paradoxically the incremental effect is one that is surprisingly revealing of the deep, tectonic instabilities in our relationships with partners and lovers.

If the touchstone of Anthropology is, in the end, a kind of disbelieving laughter, it is emphatically not observational humour, nor the bittersweet angst of wry comedy that dominates much contemporary fiction: Rhodes highlights the essential absurdity of heterosexual relationships, the fundamental incomprehension and misunderstandings that divide men and women. The wayward commandments of desire, the desperate mismatches of affection, the hilarious disjunctions of perception, the disequilibria of power, all are scrutinised in turn by the author's cool, deadpan prose; and the superficial equivalence of form mimics the fact that, while relationships may seem similar on the surface, each is uniquely odd, perverse or disfunctional.

The structure of the book is reminiscent of Raymond Queneau's Exercises in Style, its tone occasionally recalls Donald Barthelme's elegant postmodern short fiction, but Anthropology nevertheless mines a seam distinctly its own: quirky, surreal, often wildly funny and cumulatively profound. --Burhan Tufail


‘The funny ones are all the funnier for being brief; the sad ones, all the sadder for being sparse. Every one a twenty-second gem; just don’t read them all at once.’ Maxim

’Very funny and very sharp.’ The Times

’Misanthropic, macabre and mordant tales of doomed couplings herald the arrival of Dan Rhodes.’ i-D

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 April 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you remember Revels and how great they were, you'll get some idea of how this book might make you feel.
ANTHROPOLOGY is like a bag of Revels - each story a treat of a sweet; every one a surprise and every one leaving you wanting another. Unlike a bag of assorted-centre sweeties, however, devouring them all at once won't leave you feeling bilious - just a little dizzy perhaps.
The single-paragraph stories contained in ANTHROPOLOGY are pretty odd - sometimes you just can't believe what you're reading; they're certainly surreal; they're poignant. Some are like jokes with sick punchlines; some are like a punch in the stomach; some are impossible to read out loud because the huge lump in your throat stops you from being able to speak.
Sometimes, as I read, the words Spike and Milligan and Brian and Patten spring to mind. In my view, not a bad thing.
There's a photo of Dan Rhodes at the back of the book: he was born in 1972 but doesn't even look young. He looks like a man who doesn't get much sleep. With a mind like that, it's hardly surprising. Maybe it's the lack of sleep that brings on these warped yet perfect observations. He merges utter fantasy with pure mundanity. Occasionally, the stories deliberately miss the point, which makes them all the more entertaining.
I keep my copy of ANTHROPOLOGY on my desk. When there's a lull (and sometimes I create a lull on purpose), I pick up the book an read a story. It stops me eating sweets.
If Dan Rhodes reads this, please get in touch: I need to know more...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nick Phillips on 10 Nov 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Certainly a clever idea, 101 stories each 101 words long, with a title requiring a little bit of arithmetic leaving you with... yes, you guessed it, the number 101. A very easy read that will make you laugh out loud on occasion, go 'yuk' or 'ergh' on others. I'd agree with those who argue that the book is more than simply a collection of quirky tales. There is some depth in the book, there is emotion. (Read the Amazon review at the top of the page.) In particular, Rhodes explores obsession and dysfunction well. However, I defy the reviewer who said 'I defy you not to cry at certain stories' - sorry, no tears. Nup, not one.

The strength of this collection is also its weakness. 101 is an arbitrary number, an arbitrary scaffold that simply constrains the art. Some stories would benefit from being a few words longer, others a few shorter, and, many of the stories are just re-hashes of earlier ones. On a number of occasions I thought 'here we go again', yes I know she's so beautiful and you love her so much that her total indifference to you only makes you love her more. Blah blah blah.

To some extent the collection of stories feels a little too self-consciously smart, with the author saying 'hey look at me.' However, I don't fully agree with 'pmcnjbi' who's review acerbically asserts 'A book for people who like being seen with books but find reading tiresome' but, I think I have some inkling of what s/he means.

I will no doubt read it again however, perhaps a couple more times.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME on 1 Oct 2006
Format: Paperback
I have never read anything else by this author, though I know I really should, but I can say that it's one of the best books I've read and one I return to regularly to cheer myself up and assure me everything isn't lost.

A relative of Raymond Queneau's `Exercises in Style', `Anthropology and a Hundred Other Stories' was the debut collection by Dan Rhodes, offering up 101 paragraph long stories centred on a single word. Each `story' can be read in seconds, all centre around girlfriends from a male perspective, many of them feel like variant on the same joke.

The first time I read this was on a train, I'm sure the people sitting opposite me thought there was something wrong with me as I made hysterical noises in a public place. Parts of it are as hilarious as early Martin Amis - there's one part in `Dead Babies' (haven't read it in years) that made me shudder with laughter - this book is like a one-hundred-and-one versions of that.

Some of the stories are a bit surreal and may not seem as funny as certain others, but there is no problem as you can just flip to the next one.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Peter Lee TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Mar 2004
Format: Paperback
Blissful sums this one up. 101 stories, each 101 words long, the whole thing readable in a couple of hours but it will stay with you infinitely longer. These are very short stories about love, all told from a male perspective, and almost every one is a winner. Some make you laugh, some make you cry, but they all prove that Dan Rhodes is a fantastic writer, and this is a book to treasure.
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