Earlier this year I had the pleasure of stumbling across a copy of Dan Rhodes’s excellent and funny mini-collection, Anthropology. The book is comprised of 101 stories of 101 words each, one per page, and each story tells the tale of a doomed love affair. I love how punchy and precise these little stories are, and how Rhodes is able to say so much in so few words.
I read the book in a single sitting and came away wondering whether Newbury & Hobbes stories might work in a similar format. It became a bit of a game – a literary experiment – and I started playing around with the idea, scribbling things down in my notebook. I ended up writing a whole sequence of them, each one exactly 100 words, all linked by an evolving narrative thread about Newbury’s ongoing relationship with the mysterious agent, ‘Lady Arkwell’.
Here’s one of my favourites:
At a masked ball in a decaying palazzo in Venice, he thought he met her again. She was wearing an elaborate mask the colour of verdigris, crested with a plume of bright, azure feathers.
Around them, the revellers talked of the vast engines that kept the city afloat, and the schools of vicious mermen living beneath the shifting waves.
She leaned closer, touching.
“Is it you?” he whispered, his lips almost brushing her ear. He could not be sure; the mask was efficient in its misdirection.
Her only answer was to walk away with a smile on her crimson-painted lips.
At some point I’d love to collect all of these together into a book. I might post some more over the coming days.