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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

Odd Jobs

by
Tony Duvert


general information | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Odd Jobs



Title: Odd Jobs
Author: Tony Duvert
Genre: Stories
Written: 1978 (Eng. 2017)
Length: 50 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Odd Jobs - US
Odd Jobs - UK
Odd Jobs - Canada
Les petits métiers - France
  • French title: Les petits métiers
  • Translated and with an Introduction by S.C.Delaney and Agnès Potier

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Our Assessment:

A- : creative, colorful, and sharp

See our review for fuller assessment.




The complete review's Review:

       Odd Jobs is exactly what the title promises: a collection of unusual jobs held by a variety of local villagers. Each of the twenty-three very short pieces focuses on one such profession; almost none are of the traditional labor-force kind, but rather specific to this locale and its unusual ways (though several sound like they could be useful ...).
       So, for example, the collection begins with 'The Snot-Remover' and 'The Wiper', who take care of bodily functions. The snot-remover sets up outside school, and employs a small pump -- not like in the good old days, when practitioners still relied on a small reed pipe to suck out the snot ..... The wiper -- yes, that sort of wiper -- does his daily rounds, but isn't allowed in homes: "When wanting his service, one poked out one's ass across the threshold".
       Several of the positions are considerably more extreme, and suggest a society that is in many ways medieval. There's a variation on the (original) whipping-boy concept, the village council deciding:

parents could no longer punish their own boys; they were, rather, only to assault those that were designated as service children, who'd wait on the promenade, in plain view.
       There's also a variation on the traditional idea of jus primæ noctis, with a 'screwer' charged, on wedding nights, with deflowering: "the husband while the husband deflowered his wife" (with the wealthy bribing the screwer to get out of it ...). Even more outrageous, there's the 'skinner' -- who handles the traditional skinning of a child when a woman gives birth to her thirteenth, part of the preparation for that occasion, when: "one of her other children would be sacrificed, serving as the banquet's main course".
       Though comic, the edge to these tales is obviously sharp and hard; there's much here that is amusing, even funny, but it's a cruel, dark humor, too.
       Good -- but often quite shocking -- fun, artfully presented.

- M.A.Orthofer, 11 October 2017

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Links:

Odd Jobs: Other books by Tony Duvert under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       French author Tony Duvert lived 1945 to 2008.

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© 2017 the complete review

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