Twelve of the weirdest and wildest jobs you never knew existed.
Take a journey through time in this genre-bending story collection and witness the lives of twelve fictional characters working some of history’s strangest professions that no longer exist.
Heppiri Otoko, a man born with the embarrassing ability to manipulate the sounds of his bodily gas into music, answers the call to help one of history’s greatest composers find his love of music when he is stricken deaf. Francisco Silva must make a choice between two lives. As the world’s last archmime, history’s most perplexing jesters, it’s his duty to perform an impression of the recently deceased at the front of a funeral procession for someone uncomfortably close to him. Can he honour the family while remaining true to the wishes of the dead? Wendy Chapman is the world’s first female Wha-Wants-Me Man. If wandering the ancient streets of Edinburgh’s Old Town offering to rent her portable toilet to anyone in need wasn’t distasteful enough, the constant pressure of her rivals in this male-dominated space and the awkward romantic advances from her customers might be enough to make her quit altogether.
These and nine other stories use some of history’s most unbelievable occupations as jumping off points to explore deeper themes that reveal parallels between the people who worked the jobs of yesterday and the challenges we face today.
Afterword blends literary fiction, magical realism, horror, absurdism, fables, science fiction, and more into a single riveting package. If you like award-winning fiction grounded in history, you’ll love this inventive debut by Jeremy Bibaud.
Afterword by Jeremy Bibaud is a compilation of original short stories that bring to life jobs people have held in history that will likely be viewed as outlandish through a modern lens but were important even if they were menial in their heyday. Bibaud weaves real-life work with fictional characters to create thought-provoking stories, some that veer into the deeply morose and others that are outright hilarious. In the story 'Chandler', an actual medieval wax custodian and candle crafter—a chandler—is transported to 2002 with a mission involving the Emmy Awards that do not go as well as he'd hoped. 'However, Replied the Universe' follows two leech collectors, Ronald and Dale, as they drum up medicinal leeches in the 1800s; a dangerous job made more so when Dale becomes a one-man Sodom and Gomorrah. All told, Bibaud delivers twelve incredible short stories that read independently of the others.
Afterword is so completely different from anything I have read before and the combination of normal, everyday people of the past performing work that is anything but normal and everyday is just perfect. Jeremy Bibaud writes with the skill of a seasoned author and the dark humor he imparts is twisted and morbid, intelligent and witty. My favorite is 'This Glorious Thought', where a 'sin-eater named James, whose role it is to eat a ritual meal off the body of a dead person so their sin passes from them to James, works his way through the sins of his village that is being ravaged by the plague. This is one of the more somber stories and, in my eyes, the most brilliant. The shocking end shows that even in the face of pain, loss, and horror, there is profound humanity in the one person who was viewed as the herald of wickedness. Beautiful. Unusual. Creative. Very highly recommended.