Featured Story: The Island

Since the Daily Fiction Project finished, I've written a novel inspired by Stories 151 and 152. Here they are, presented as a single story.

160. The Artist

AT TIMES LIKE THIS, I am always reminded of an anecdote I heard some time ago concerning the morning ritual of a certain Belgian artist.

159. The Black Feather

Part 3 of the series, 'The Circle'. (Starts here.)

AFTER EVERYTHING WENT WRONG in Genoa, the Circle went to ground. Each of us went off in our separate directions.

158. The Game

Part 3 of the series, 'The Island'. (Starts here.)

THIS, ABOVE ALL, IS a story about friendship. In the beginning, there were seven of us, all born within a couple of years of each other, which, for a village as small as ours, on an island as small and remote as our island, was something of a baby boom.

157. The Automaton

The third and final part of the 'New Analysand' series. (Starts here.)

I DOZED OFF AGAIN – that’s the third time this month. Perhaps my wife is right, and I should consider retirement.

156. Money

Part 5 of the 'Vertigo' series. (Starts here.)

PEOPLE WERE ALWAYS ASKING Alice what she did, which was an annoyance, because she did nothing. And that was the way she liked it.

155. The Long, Dark Knight of the Soul

Part 6 of the 'Tunnel' series. (Starts here.)

IN JUNE 1940, THE German writer RK Stampflinger fled Paris with his sister Dora. Travelling on foot, they were part of an exodus of two million people fleeing the Nazis, among them Jews, gypsies, stateless émigrés, and - above all - French communists intent on avoiding the clutches of the Gestapo.

154. The Lion and the Frog

A LION SAT IN a cave, licking his forepaws casually, when he noticed a green frog crouched in front of him, frozen in fear.

153. On Clouds

I AM, AT HEART, a lazy man, never more content than when I am idle. I'm happiest lying back on the couch by the window, watching the clouds sail overhead, drifting in and out of sleep.

152. The Mutiny

Part 2 of the series, 'The Island'. (Starts here.)

THE FOLLOWING MORNING, BEFORE they are flogged, the three seamen beg the suspension of the punishment, for they have an amazing tale to tell.

151. The Island

Part 1 of a two-part series of the same name.

THE MOST ASTONISHING INSTANCE of metempsychosis, or the migration of souls, I have ever come across was as a student, while I was researching my doctoral dissertation.

150. Missing Persons

Part 7 of the 'Perfectionism' storyline. (Starts here.)

ISABELLE ROWE, 24, DIVORCED, a bank clerk from Revere, near Boston, Massachusetts; 164cm, 62kg, fair hair, blue eyes, with a tattoo of an eagle on her left shoulder.

149. Feast Day

Part 5 of the 'Tunnel' series. (Starts here.)

AUGUST 15, 1940. MY dear Arthur, it has indeed been a beautiful summer, and thus a summer dripping with more than the usual irony.

148. The Backstory

Part 4 of the 'Tunnel' series. (Starts here.)

IN ORDER TO MAKE a success of the forgery business, one has to view it as two things – firstly, a business, and secondly, a process of seduction, wherein the role of the forger is that of a matchmaker.

147. The Television

Part 1 of the 'Melbourne 1956' series and part 1 of the 'Pax Olympia' series.

THE FIRST TIME I met László Kaszás I was 16 years old. It was late 1956, and I lived with my family in a comfortable, exceedingly dull suburb of Melbourne.

146. The Society

Part 2 of the 'Circle' series. (Previously.)

THE INSTITUT MISTRAC WAS founded in 1924 on the shores of Lac Leman by the controversial pedagogue Roland Mistrac, whose radical theories emphasised the importance of monastic discipline, daily exercise, racial purity and devotion to art.

145. The Asylum

Part 1 of a series of the same name.

DAYS LIKE THIS REMIND me of my childhood: crisp, sunny winter days, thin blue sky, the slough of a mean wind.

144. The Enclosed Garden

TODAY THE JURY WILL return its verdict, the judge will bring down his sentence and, despite the considerable resources devoted to my case, I will no doubt be found guilty. The evidence is, after all, as incontrovertible as it is damning.

143. Mystery Cupcake

THE PROTAGONIST - LET'S CALL him Felix – found it at his front door one evening when he returned from work: a cupcake in a plastic tub.

142. The Lesson

A HUSBAND AND WIFE divorced, and custody of the child went to the mother. The father was allowed to see the child one night a week and every second weekend.

141. Baby Phat

A LATE-NIGHT 'A' TRAIN rattles downtown. At 175th Street a woman enters the carriage, wearing a shiny red miniskirt and army boots, and a black leather jacket with the words Baby Phat curling across the back.

140. The Diary

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING PLOT synopsis contains spoilers. Cynthia (played by Charlotte Herron) is a smart, beautiful, successful woman with a wild streak.

139. The Backpack

THIS IS WHAT IT did to us, our grief. We stayed up every night till three or four, sometimes till dawn, drifting from one room to the other like ghosts who do not yet know they are no longer alive, waking around midday or in the early afternoon.

138. The Secret Dictionary

Part 6 of the 'Perfectionism' series. (Starts here.) Part 3 of the 'Tunnel' series. (Starts here.)

ONE OF THE MOST intriguing mysteries in the history of dictionaries has come to be known as the Secret Dictionary of the Cathars, whose very existence is a matter of considerable debate.

137. Band Names

Part 3 of the 'Invisible Sky' series. (Starts here.)

IN THOSE DAYS WE were all in bands, and more often than not in several bands at once. We played in each other’s bands, we played in other people’s bands, and on top of that we each had our own bands.

136. Subject X

Part 5 of the 'Perfectionism' series. (Starts here.)

DEAR INSPECTEUR DUHAMEL, I write to you in response to your inquiry regarding Subject X of 14th October. I have studied the video you sent me of her interview with police and have arrived at a number of surprising, indeed disturbing, conclusions.

135. The Amnesia Pandemic

FAR MORE SERIOUS THAN the suicide epidemic of the late teens - which thankfully was nipped in the bud through timely, and carefully coordinated, interventions across several jurisdictions - was the amnesia pandemic of the following decade.

134. The Lost Manuscript

Part 2 of the 'Tunnel' series. (Previously.)

I HAVE SPENT THE better part of half my life going over the events of that night, and I believe it all began in the tunnel.

133. (Holding On For) Dear Life

Part 2 of the 'Invisible Sky' series. (Starts here.)

EVERY NOW AND THEN I pull out that album and listen to it again, always with the same mixture of pleasure and pain.

132. The Artists' Colony

Part 1 of a series of the same name.

IT WAS RAINING THAT Sunday afternoon when I arrived at the writers' colony.

131. Shyness

Part 4 of the 'Vertigo' series. (Starts here.)

WHEN I WAS A girl I was incredibly shy, and that shyness lingered long into adulthood.

130. Exit Strategy

SOMETIMES IN THIS TOWN you can't step foot outside your door without bumping into someone you know.

129. A Kind of Sunshine

Part 4 of the 'Perfectionism' series. (Starts here.)

HI JEANNE, THANKS FOR sending through the footage. I have watched it every day since I received it, sometimes more than once a day. It seems to me like a film that tells many stories at once, and each story is a sad one.

128. Closed Circuit

Part 3 of the 'Perfectionism' series. (Starts here.)

HI LUC, I HOPE you got my phone message. I have some CCTV footage I’d like you to have a look at involving that girl who spoke an unknown language who was found in Génos last month.

127. Househunting

THERE WAS A TIME in my youth, a crazy time, when all I ever seemed to be doing was househunting.

126. The Apparition

Part 2 of the 'Apparitions' series. (Previously.)

OF COURSE IT WAS nuts. It was completely crazy. Professor Antonio Bergamote had, if you will permit me, no clue, so to speak, about detective work.

125. Only Child

THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF MEREDITH'S engagement was a joyous event, a turning-point loaded with more than the usual significance, marking the end, or so hoped Meredith, of the worst period of her life.

124. Coffee

Part 1 of the 'Apparitions' series.

IT TOOK SOME WEEKS for his colleagues to note the disappearance of Professor Antonio Bergamote and bring it to the attention of the relevant authorities.

123. The Tunnel

Part 1 of a series of the same name.

I WAS TRAVELLING WITH Loic Duhamel and Miranda Sabato from Montpellier, where we had been picking grapes, to Barcelona, where Loic knew someone whose roof we could pitch our tents on until we figured out where to go next.

122. Distant Music

WHATEVER IT IS, I have seldom heard it, and then only when I am very ill, when my life, as they say, is hanging by a thread.

121. Pearly Shells

I'M OFTEN ASKED WHERE I got my name, which is Atari.

120. On the Run

IN DARWIN, WE STAYED in a cheap motel near the airport, the kind where the ashtrays are never really cleaned, and bought an old Ford stationwagon from some German backpackers who had just circumnavigated Australia.

119. The Typewriter

THIS STORY HAS BEEN typed on an Olivetti typewriter that previously belonged to the great Julio Salinas.

118. Reunion Tour

Part 1 of the 'Invisible Sky' series.

AFTER ALL THIS TIME, I don't know why, I still get nervous when I have to go on one of those silly Invisible Sky reunion tours.

117. Tuesday

HE KNOWS THE WAY to work so well, he has driven it so many times, that he drives by reflex, paying almost no attention to the road.

116. The Reader

Part 3 of the 'Vertigo' series. (Previously.)

IT WAS THE END of summer, a lingering summer.

115. The Golden Thread

EVER SINCE SHE HURT her leg in a scooter accident, K has been unable to pray.

114. Verisimilitude

FOR ME, 1996 WAS a long year, one of the longest years of my life, in fact, although it didn't really start until April and it didn't really end until the following February.

113. Desert Dust


112. Tuesday Morning

Part 1 of the 'Tuesday' series.

WHEN HE WAKES UP, Felix is in his lover's bed.

111. The Palace

Part 2 of the 'Life of Eleanor Dearborn' series. (Previously.)

AFTER ARRIVING IN FRANCE, Eleanor Dearborn moved to Paris, which is where we met.

110. The Fox

IT WOULD BE POINTLESS to describe the pain, the nausea, the exhaustion, for such is the lot of the ultra-marathon runner, and at any rate these afflictions had already begun to torment the runner long before the 127th mile, as indeed she had expected.

109. Oedipus the Cat

WHEN WE WERE NEWLY married, before you were born, your father and I had a cat called Oedipus.

108. The Circle

Part 1 of a series of the same name.

IT WAS A CIRCLE of six: Max, Floyd, Raoul, Sebastian, Kim and Holly.

107. Probability

I AM NOT IN thrall to my childhood the way many people are in thrall to their childhood – the way, for instance, Tarif is in thrall to his childhood.

106. The Heiress

THE RECENT PASSING AT the age of 98 of Mrs Ethel Owen of Des Moines, Iowa, didn't rate a mention in the international press.

105. Runaway

HARRY SEES THEM ALMOST every day, sitting by the entrance to the train station, or hanging out in groups of two or three in the park near his apartment, or diving into the dumpsters behind his local supermarket in the early evening.

104. The Master Oud Player Announces His Return

THERE IS A KNOCK at the door. The master oud player opens it and standing before him is a young woman holding a clipboard: the journalist.

103. The Life of Eleanor Dearborn

Part 1 of a series of the same name.

AS FAR AS ANYBODY knows, Eleanor Dearborn was born in 1972 in Canada, possibly in Winnipeg, Manitoba, but also equally possibly in Calgary in the neighbouring province of Alberta.

102. The Discothèque

Part 2 of the 'Insomnia' series. (Previously.)

REVELLERS STAGGERED DRUNKENLY AROUND the dark cobbled square in ones, twos and threes, doing their best impersonation of the people they dreamed of being.

101. What We Love About This Company

WE SHUFFLED INTO THE board room, which had been cleared of all furniture except for a circle of orange plastic bucket seats in the middle.

100. The Frontier

Part 2 of the 'Moriarty' series. (Previously.)

AS YOU CAN IMAGINE, the news came as a shock.

99. The Ghostwriter

IT WAS WHILE HOLIDAYING in the Lakes District that we met a novelist who had previously been a ghostwriter.

98. Insomnia

WHEN SHE WAS TWENTY-FIVE, Ludmila decided to spend a summer at the beach.

97. The Campground

OFTENTIMES I FIND MYSELF thinking about Imre and Lazslo and Attila in the back of the car sharing a bottle of brandy and arguing about something inconsequential, something only three men can argue about, and not just any three men but three men who love each other like brothers, who despise each other like brothers too, men who could just as well kill each other as die for one another.

96. The View From the Apartment

WHAT MARK USED TO call his apartment was actually an entire floor of a disused office building in an industrial estate.

95. The Gift

AT FIRST, THERE WERE only rumours: a young girl, still in school, a girl who could barely write her name, the youngest of a family of sixteen - not including the miscarriages and stillbirths and infant deaths - this girl was said to have the gift.

94. Missing Persons

Part 2 of the 'Perfectionism' series. (Previously.)

SHE CALLED ME ON a Friday afternoon, on the Friday before the Pentecost long weekend, what's more, when a man's every second thought is of taking long walks in the woods with his wife and his dogs, enjoying the spring air.

93. The Pickle Jar

WHEN I WAS YOUNG I had a friend called Michel.

92. Science Fiction

WE FIRST MET IN a night class at the local community college - a short story class, to be precise.

91. Alias

HE IS A BETTER man than I am, I know that. He's a believer, whereas I'm not sure I believe in anything much.

90. The Waking World

MARGUERITE DURAS IS TRAVELLING by train to a hospital appointment in the capital.

89. Fireworks

THE MASTER DOES NOT think highly of my work.

88. The Translator

I MET THE POET Randall Sloane at a bar called The Minotaur in the Spanish Quarter of Naples.

87. Rumours of Bella

FOR A TIME WE became obsessed with Bella.

86. Yannick and the Whale

A WHALE ON A beach is stranded.

85. Fugue

Part 1 of a series of the same name.

SHE WAKES IN A strange bed, in an unknown room.

84. The Germans

WHEN HIS GIRLFRIEND ASKS Felix to move out, he considers renting a bachelor pad.

83. A Miracle

IN LOURDES, WE STAYED at a small hotel owned by a British couple.

82. City of Cats

ONE WINTER, A FRIEND told me she and her husband had decided to spend the winter abroad and would I like to spend the winter house-sitting for her.

81. The Sister

ON THE NEXT OCCASION, it was a crisp, early April evening.

80. The Tricorne Hat

Part 2 of the 'New Analysand' series. (Previously.)

TODAY, A SECOND SESSION with the new analysand, A, the writer who claims he cannot dream and who wants to analyse his stories instead.

79. Instructions

Part 2 of the 'Instructions' series. (Previously.)

YOU WILL REMAIN IN your hotel room for the next two days without setting so much as a foot outside.

78. Unknown Dialect

Part 1 of the 'Perfectionism' series.

FROM THE NEARBY VILLAGE of Génos on a dismal December morning in the foothills of the Pyrenees, smoke could be seen rising from an isolated farm at the end of a narrow gravel road running along a creek in a deep valley.

77. Introducing a New Kind of Ocean Cruise

WE'RE THE FIRST TO admit it. Luxury cruises aren't for everyone.

76. On Brooklyn Bridge

HOLLY WENT INTO THE witness protection program on a Friday, just over a year ago.

75. Late-Night Radio

SOME THINGS ARE BEST done alone, and in the absence of solitude, it is occasionally necessary to manufacture it.

74. Apples and Grapes

YESTERDAY WE WERE SENT a box of fruit and vegetables - such a thoughtful gift.

73. The Botanists

IN OCTOBER LAST YEAR, George Phelps, Professor of Botany at the University of Johannesburg, died suddenly of a rare infection, previously only ever reported in the tropics.

72. Genoa

THE WORLD IS NOT the same at 3am.

71. Recognition

AFTER TWENTY-THREE YEARS, I have seen him twice in the past week.

70. Mix Tape

THE LAST TIME I saw Z, he took me out to dinner.

69. Cat Man and Pillow Woman


68. The Damned

I WAS BOARDING A plane bound for Shanghai when I ran into B, an old friend from high school settling into his seat in the business class section.

67. Old Masters

IF YOU HAD TOLD me, when I was a 20 year-old tearaway, that I would be spending my entire life surrounded by old masters, I would have laughed in your face.

66. The Philosopher of Memory

MORE THAN TWO DECADES after her departure, the internationally recognised cognitive philosopher X finally returned to her native country from Oxford, where she had been teaching and writing, to attend to her dying father.

65. Mosquito Hour

I LOVE WATCHING HIM while he eats.

64. The Tourists

WHERE HAVE THEY COME from? They used to be a rare sight in this town.

63. The New Analysand

Part 1 of a series of the same name.

ALTHOUGH IN THEORY I'M not taking on new patients, I somehow contrived to begin treatment with a new analysand today - I'll call him A.

62. Instructions

IT SHOULD BE BEFORE dawn - no more than a hint of daylight in the sky.

61. Memory and the Poet

EVERY YEAR AT ABOUT this time I remember Preston McInnes, for it was at the end of winter that we first met, in a veteran's hospital in Washington DC in the mid-1970s.

60. Faraway Island

A COUPLE WHO LIVED on an orchard was unable to conceive children.

59. Laurel Canyon

SO I BELIEVED HER – what else could I do? She’d told us she was moving to Los Angeles to break into the movie business.

58. Sunset Park

I RAN INTO JEANNIE Fournier again 18, maybe 20 years later.

57. Silence

THE ONLY JOB I’VE ever had other than driving a cab is a tour of duty in Vietnam and that was 20 years ago or more.

56. Two Cats

EARLY IN THE FIRST year of her accounting degree, which her father had decided she should take in Australia, a young woman noticed two black cats with white markings playing together in a courtyard at the rear of the Old Physics Building on the campus of her university.

55. The Information

I CONFESS I REGRET it now. I should never have said anything.

54. Giselle Moravia, 1931-2012

THE RECENT PASSING OF Giselle Moravia in Geneva was noted by nobody in the literary world.

53. Honour


IT WOULD BE TOO easy to suppose that it took the illness of a parent for Koji to realise that what he had been doing – his unfaithfulness – was wrong and must end, but this is not the case.

52. Dawn at the End of the World

IT WAS ALREADY LATE at the Minotaur when I ran into a guy who called himself Le Socle.

51. The Persian Smoker

IN THOSE DAYS, WHEN you had something important to do, like interviewing for housemates, and the share house you lived in was too poor or too disorganised for such luxuries as an answering machine, you had to stay in to receive your telephone calls, or else trust that the caller would call again.

50. The Cropduster

I LIKE TO FLY over the city at dusk, in the summertime, when it’s really hot, and the city feels like a dying animal.

49. Chelsea Grin

FOR A TIME, AS a young man, not long out of acting school, I was the Worst Luck Guy.

48. The Third Face

AFTER THE COUP, THE well known revolutionary Juan Battista Arranxia was forced to flee the country.

47. Lost World

HOLLY SAYS ALL SHE wanted was to drive from her home in Baltimore to the Lost World Caves in West Virginia.

46. The Swimming Pool

Part 2 of the 'Vertigo' series. (Previously.)

SOMETHING ABOUT SWIMMING POOLS - perhaps the smell of chlorine, perhaps the sound of children squealing in delight, maybe the impossible blue of the water, the pale play of the sky on its surface, or the sight of all those bathers slinking by in slow motion - whatever it was, something about swimming pools consoled her.

45. Oblivion

WHILE I WAS WRITING my dissertation on Charles Herriot, I received a residency grant from the National Library allowing me to spend three months in the capital.

44. Blankets and Coats

THERE WAS A CONVENT at the end of our street that had been abandoned for years.

43. The Widow

THE LETTERS COME IN every day, from all across the world in all kinds of languages. I don’t reply to them.

42. Blood Pudding

I THOUGHT THEY SEEMED a lovely couple. They really loved each other, you could see it.

41. The Love Life of Siamese Twins

THE POETS VÉRONIQUE AND Marie-Elisabeth Mouchand have left French letters with a unique heritage: two poets literally joined at the hip documenting in lavish detail the descent of their relationship into mutual loathing and, eventually, murder.

40. The Promise

WHEN ROBERT WENT MISSING, I was 23. A young 23. We had been together eight years. We had been married for the last five of those years.

39. Visiting the Baroness

IN THE SUMMER, WE rented a house on the coast for a week owned by a woman we took to calling the Baroness.

38. Everything Must Go

Second and final part of the 'Guitar Lessons' series. (Previously.)

ALTHOUGH I DROVE PAST Cal's guitar store several times a month, I'd drop in on him once or twice a year - usually some time around his birthday and some time around Christmas.

37. Guitar Lessons

Part 1 of a series of the same name.

WHEN WE WERE JUST a couple of kids growing up in the suburbs, our parents bought us guitars one Christmas after much pestering and promised my brother Cal and I we'd start lessons after New Year.

36. The Morning After

Part 2 of the 'The Chosen' series. (Previously.)

THE DAY AFTER THE end of the world was going to be hot - hot with a desert heat, an end of the world heat.

35. The Feud

THE BITTER FEUD BETWEEN the poets Raoul Aronson and Matilda Sipowicz culminated in tragedy at a provincial writers’ festival ten years ago this month.

34. The Memorial


WHILE THE DISAPPEARANCE OF the Swiss architect Patrice Maurras remains a mystery, many have attributed it to his state of professional disgrace.

33. The Epidemic

THE EPIDEMIC IS ESTIMATED to have begun in the year 2023, although this has only been calculated retrospectively, because it took three years before the epidemic was detected.

32. The Thirty-Third Floor

WHEN I MET JENNY, she was exactly how Roger had described her.

31. Early Spring

IT WAS THE END of winter, and it was strangely warm, one of those February hot spells that get you to thinking things aren't right with the world.

30. Vertigo

AT THE AGE OF 18, in the middle of her final year of high school, Alice's mother died of cancer.

29. Interlude

EVERY NIGHT, I HEAR a piano playing in the apartment below. At a certain hour, he begins by playing a few scales, then the playing begins.

28. The Interloper


THE WHOLE CITY WAS in a state of suspended animation.

27. Morning Love Song

THIS IS WHAT WE know of the last hours of Nicolas 'Nico' Fourchaud.

26. The Nobody

I MUST ADMIT, I noticed him instantly. Perhaps I recognised him as a fellow loner.

25. The Drinker

Part 1 of the 'Moriarty' series.

THE LAST I HEARD of Moriarty, he was a cleaner in a brothel.

24. Consideration

A SWISS ARCHITECT IN his early forties, widowed for some years to a woman he described as his soulmate and long having despaired of the likelihood of remarrying, went to Australia for a holiday and, while riding a ferry between Sydney’s Circular Quay and Manly Beach, fell to talking to a woman who was leaning on the railing beside him.

23. Unknown Provenance

IN PARIS IN THOSE days, we would walk the streets interminably, Vladimir and I, with no particular destination in mind.

22. The Return

A WOMAN WAS JAILED after running over a crossing guard.

21. The Booksellers by the River

IN THOSE DAYS IN Innocents, the riverbank on Sunday afternoons in the summertime would be lined with cars with their boots open, filled with old yellowing books and magazines.

20. In Norwich

IN NORWICH TWO YOUNG men boarded the train, drawing attention to themselves with their tattoos and oversize clothes.

19. The Bride

ONE SUNDAY WE WERE walking in the neighbourhood surrounding the the university when we came upon a wedding party consisting of a variety of men in brightly coloured, ill-fitting suits and women dressed entirely in blue.

18. First Days

I HAD SO MUCH time in those first days, and so little money, that my chief entertainment was to ride the underground trains all day.

17. Fireflies

I CUT MY HAND open in Siena, climbing a wall.

16. Daylight Saving

IN TRIESTE, WHERE WE had sat through yet another Interpol conference on tracking international organised crime networks, we parted ways until the next such conference.

15. Cities of the Mediterranean

IT WOULD BE SEVERAL years before I ran into Andre Babasco again, this time quite literally bumping into him in the aisle of one of those shops you find in all cities of a certain size, invariably run by a young Turkish man or an old Chinese woman, that sell just about anything you can imagine, as long as it is made of plastic.

14. The Guest

WHAT YOU NEED TO know from the outset is that I moved in with Veronica Laidlaw about six weeks after we met, even though things were not exactly going well between us.

13. The Deer

ON MY WAY HOME from work, I ran into a deer.

12. The Copy and the Fake

AT A CONFERENCE IN Seattle, we met the professor of Turkish letters Dr Hurriyet Ozbey.

11. The Marriage Despite Itself

WHEN PABLO AND SASKIA decided to separate, it had seemed so simple, and in fact for a long time nothing fundamental seemed to have changed.

10. The Alibi

I WAS HOME IN my pyjamas watching the television.

9. The Mansion

THE FIRST TIME I truly saw Teresa - truly saw her for who she was, I mean, as opposed to just another member of the circle - was the day David and I picked her up on the way to the Community, although even by that time it was too late to truly see her.

8. The Grasshopper of Innocence

I SHOULD BEGIN BY saying that when I arrived in this city I knew no one.

7. The Detective's Detective

WITHOUT EXCEPTION, RESORT TOWNS are boring. Dullness festers there like a gangrene.

6. Rear Vision Mirror

WE DROVE FOR THREE days straight on roads that shook us to the core, avoiding every highway, giving false names at a caravan park on the first night and thereafter sleeping under the stars for fear of leaving a trail, paying in cash for fuel and meals, keeping a low profile in towns when we had to stop at a supermarket.

5. The Glossy Magazine

HAVING CHECKED IN FOR his flight, Marcel went to a newsstand and bought a couple of glossy news magazines.

4. The Party

WE MET AT ONE of those parties where no one knows anyone at first and then with every passing drink everyone realises that they've met each other already at some party years ago, or studied with them or worked with them, or studied or worked with someone who knows them.

3. The Impersonator

IN THOSE EARLY DAYS we worked for a small publishing company that was slowly sinking into ruin.

2. Peppermint Tea

WE WERE IN A fortress town in southern Spain, at another one of the interminable procession of medieval fortress towns, at another one of the usual interminable procession of early-music festivals, touring our program of English Renaissance a cappella music.

1. Evening Train

I BUMPED INTO R again in the train on my way home from work.