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Before and Afterlives Paperback – March 20, 2013

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Before and Afterlives + The Love We Share Without Knowing + One For Sorrow
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[Barzak] treads a delicate line between the paranormal ghost romance and the more nuanced literary tradition that includes Shirley Jackson, Peter S. Beagle, and Robert Nathan...Before and Afterlives is a fine introduction to the short fiction of an author who, in a fairly short career, has established himself as one of the most distinctive voices and lyrically effective prose stylists in recent fantasy." --Gary K. Wolfe for Locus Magazine

"Masterfully crafted...each one packs a punch." --Publishers Weekly

"Throughout this collection, Barzak effectively writes people contending with their fears and doubts but most especially he writes about loneliness. Barzak makes it all seem so easy, these gentle glimpses into his characters' lives, and even though these lives might include mermaids or ghostly parents or talking fireflies,the extraordinary aspects are not what make his tales so magical. It's the way he sees plain ordinary people that gives his stories such power. Bravo."  --Bookslut

About the Author

Christopher Barzak grew up in rural Ohio, went to university in a decaying post-industrial city in Ohio, and has lived in a Southern California beach town, the capital of Michigan, and in the suburbs of Tokyo, Japan, where he taught English in rural elementary and middle schools. His stories have appeared in a many venues, including Nerve, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Teeth, Interfictions, Asimov's, and Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet. His first novel, One for Sorrow won the Crawford Award that same year. His second book, The Love We Share Without Knowing, is a novel-in-stories set in a magical realist modern Japan, and was a finalist for the Nebula Award for Best Novel and the James Tiptree Jr. Award. He lives in Youngstown, Ohio, where he teaches writing in the at Youngstown State University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Lethe Press; 1st edition (March 20, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590213696
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590213698
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,278,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christopher Barzak is the author of the Crawford Award winning novel, One for Sorrow, which was recently made into the Sundance Feature Film, "Jamie Marks is Dead" (to be released August, 29, 2014). His second book, The Love We Share Without Knowing, was a finalist for the Nebula and Tiptree Awards. His most recent books are Birds and Birthdays, a collection of surrealist fantasy stories, and Before and Afterlives, a collection of supernatural fantasies, which won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Single-Author Collection, 2013. His next novel, Wonders of the Invisible World, will be published by Knopf in 2015. He grew up in rural Ohio, has lived in a southern California beach town, the capital of Michigan, and has taught English in suburban and rural communities outside of Tokyo, Japan, where he lived for two years. Currently he teaches fiction writing in the Northeast Ohio MFA program at Youngstown State University.

http://christopherbarzak.com

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "Seregil of Rhiminee" on April 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
Before I write more about this short story collection, I'll mention that this review is based on a PDF ARC.

Before and Afterlives contains the following stories:
- What We Know About the Lost Families of -- House
- The Drowned Mermaid
- Dead Boy Found
- A Mad Tea Party
- Born on the Edge of an Adjective
- The Other Angelas
- A Resurrection Artist
- The Boy Who Was Born Wrapped in Barbed Wire
- Map of Seventeen
- Dead Letters
- Plenty
- The Ghost Hunter's Beautiful Daughter
- Caryatids
- A Beginner's Guide to Survival Before, During, and After the Apocalypse
- Smoke City
- Vanishing Point
- The Language of Moths

Before and Afterlives is an excellent short story collection full of literary fantasy and horror. The stories range from fantasy stories to ghost stories. There's a lot to like in these melancholy, weird and wondrous stories, because they're exceptionally well told tales. There's plenty of intelligence, philosophy and subtle wisdom hidden in them.

I've always been fascinated by weird stories, so I liked the weirdness of these stories very much. I think it's good to mention that these stories aren't exactly weird fiction, but speculative fiction with weird elements. Some of these stories are almost weird fiction, because there's plenty of subtle and charming weirdness in them. For example, Vanishing Point is a story, which could be categorized as modern weird fiction or possibly new weird fiction, because it's a story about a boy who is gradually disappearing.

One of the best things about this collection is that the author isn't afraid of writing about difficult themes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Luke P Narlee on August 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of Christopher Barzak for a few years now. His first novel "One for sorrow" was great and his second "The love we share without knowing" is one of my favorite books of all time. Now he's released this collection of short stories and it does not dissapoint at all. He has a way of capturing what it's truly like to experience and feel certain things by putting it into words in ways you never thought possible. Also what I love about it, is that even though these are primarily ghost stories, they are also just as much about relationships and the human condition. So you don't need to be a horror fan to appreciate these stories. The same can be said for his other books as well. Most of these stories take place at a pivitol time in the characters lives when they are experiencing some sort of internal conflict. Some are not sure how to feel about certain things or how to act around certain people. Some express what it feels like to be a teenager or adolescent that nobody really understands. And last but not least, how to deal with grief or loss. All the characters in these stories are dealing with different issues but he writes out their thoughts in ways that allow you to truly understand and even relate to them. Give this book a try, I guarantee you will fall in love with at least one of the characters if not many. Then get his other books as well becuase they are all great!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard Bowes on March 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before and Afterlives is a great introduction to the work of Christopher Barzak whose Crawford Award winning novel One For Sorrow is being turned into the film "Jamie Marks Is Dead" as I write this review.

This book is a generous selection from a rich early career - ghosts and dead boys, Pittsburg as the Gates of Hell, a merman in rural Ohio. Scary, amusing, beautiful, sad. No story gives a hint as to what the next one will be like. And you'll read every single one of them,
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Samantha Sabovitch on June 21, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
This collection of speculative fiction short stories is melancholy and haunting, with memorable characters and situations. Most end on a note of hope, even if that hope is that the pain the main character is suffering is now over. (I suppose "hope" defined that way is arguable, but still.)

My biggest problem with this collection is that very few of the stories resolved things. All except one or two of them left questions open. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, but when it happens every single story, it gets a big frustrating. "OK, but why...?" "I see, but what actually happened?" "Um, right, but now what?" were my three most often-thought questions as I finished each story.

Four stars, then, instead of five. I need closure when I'm done reading, at least of some kind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ann on January 1, 2014
Format: Paperback
This anthology comprises tales of the ghosts, spirits, and others who are not-quite-there. The writing is lush, evocative, imaginative without being over-the-top. Some of the stories veer towards the Horror side of the Speculative Fiction spectrum ("What We Know About the Lost Families of _ House","Dead Letters"), while others are joyful and full of hope ("Plenty"). My favorites were "The Ghost Hunter's Beautiful Daughter" and "The Language of Moths", which I absolutely loved - what a wonderful film that would make!
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