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Odd Jobs

Tony Duvert

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This series of 23 satirically scabrous short texts introduces the reader to an imaginary French suburb via the strange, grotesque small-town occupations that defined a once reliable, now presumably vanished way of life.

A catalog of job descriptions that range from the disgusting functions of “The Snot-Remover” and “The Wiper” to the shockingly cruel dramas enacted by “The Skinner” and “The Snowman,” Odd Jobs evinces an outrageous, uncomfortable and savage sense of humor. Through these narratives somewhere between parody and prose poem, Duvert assaults parenthood, priesthood and neighborhood in this mock handbook to suburban living: Leave It to Beaver as written by William Burroughs.

Tony Duvert (1945–2008) earned a reputation as the “enfant terrible” of the generation of French authors known for defining the postwar Nouveau Roman. Expelled from school at the age of 12 for homosexuality (and then put through a psychoanalytic “cure” for his condition), Duvert declared war on family life and societal norms through a controversial series of novels and essays (whose frequent controversial depictions of child sexuality and pedophilia often led his publisher to sell his works by subscription only). He won the Prix Medicis in 1973 for his novel Strange Landscape. His reputation faded in the 1980s, however, and he withdrew from society. He died in 2008.

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