Dan Rhodes’ Anthropology paints a series of little pictures; one hundred and one little pictures, each with one hundred and one words in them…little OCD maybe? Though the stories’ technically may be short and sweet, the content sure isn’t. Each vignette tells of a relationship where the girlfriend dies, secretly has kids, is a slut or is a ‘plain girl’. It’s a book full of depression that occasionally forms into a satirical, dark humour. Take one of the stories for an example of this humour, ‘Binding’. It begins by stating how the girlfriend was smashing her child’s toes with a rock. It then continues to mention the babies’ agonised wails. Then just to top it off, as part of the ‘punch-line’, Rhodes decides to add a stereotype about homosexuals. Oh the hilarity.
Ok, so they’re not all so bad, but most of the humour is so deep-seated that you have to almost work out what the joke would be. And, if you consider… that’s all these stories are, extended jokes; jokes where the humour is hidden. You may as well title it ‘the anthropology joke book and puzzle compendium’. Whilst they’re quite cleverly written, it just doesn’t work as a set of short stories. They don’t really link enough to create a ‘character you can be sure about’, yet you can’t feel anything for the characters if you take them as individuals. It’s stuck in a purgatory between potential humour and hidden messages.
Overall, some of the stories are enjoyable and there are some nice techniques scattered about. But I didn’t enjoy the dark humour.