Thumbnails is a collection of short stories or “micrograms” in which Gregory Norminton once again experiments with form, using his stylish and witty prose to examine the nooks and crannies of our distracted lives. Witty and thought-provoking, the stories are brief but clear sketches very different people and places in very different times.
Taken as a whole, the collection is an exercise in storytelling, proving that narrative can be found in the most unlikely packages. Sexual love flourishes briefly in a retirement home; British soldiers in eighteenth-century America give a very dubious gift to the natives; a Portuguese naturalist loses his life’s work to Napoleon; a grief-stricken father searches the Australian outback for signs of an extinct lizard; Mephistopheles answers his critics and explains the real origins of Shakespeare’s Hamlet; a roguish life is reduced to endnotes in a biography; an Anglo-Saxon bard despairs of his vocation — these are just a few of the premises that run through the book. Myth, social comedy, tragedy and speculative fiction follow one another in tales that vary widely in form and content — united by the task of conveying a complete narrative with the greatest possible economy.