The French writer and philosopher Tony Duvert published the slim volume Les petits métiers in 1978. A satirical, caustic, and yet delightfully light collection of fables, the book comprises twenty-three narratives from an imaginary village where denizens perform the strangest—and dirtiest—traditions and professions. A new translation, by S. C. Delaney and Agnès Potier, is forthcoming from Wakefield Press this fall. We’ve excerpted a handful of these very odd jobs below. —Ed.
He’d set up his pump at the entrance of the school, and knew each child by name.
My grandfather told me that in his time, the snot-remover had no pump: he only had a small reed pipe with which to suck up the mucus with his mouth. Also, to completely clean out the nostrils without swallowing anything, he’d put such flair into it that the scamps would have preferred having two boogers instead of one, to endure the delicious service longer.
The work of the pump had less charm. I remember that at some point, certain schoolmates would even snub the snot-remover and blow into their fingers, sweeping down their hands to smear the sidewalks and their clean uniforms. Read More