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Before and Afterlives

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  112 ratings  ·  24 reviews
These are tales of relationships with unearthly domesticity and eeriness: a woman falls in love with a haunted house; a beached mermaid is substituted for a disappeared daughter; the imaginary friend of a murdered young woman stalks the streets of her small town; a mother’s teenage son is afflicted with a disease that causes him to vanish; a father exploits his daughter’s ...more
Paperback, 1st, 242 pages
Published March 20th 2013 by Lethe Press (first published March 18th 2013)
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Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Customary author self high-fiving.
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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,
Edward Rathke
Dec 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, sf
This is a fantastic collection of fantastic fiction. Lots of highlights here, though Map of Seventeen, The Language of Moths, and Smoke City are real standouts, which is pretty impressive considering I liked or loved every story here.

My interview with Christopher at Monkeybicycle.

My review at The Lit Pub.
John Crowe-Lockerman
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As with all Of Christopher Barzak’s stories, these did not disappoint. They left me warmed inside with a feeling of hope. Hope that there is magic to be found, in what often seems to us, to be just a mundane world.
Claudia Piña
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: barrilibros, reviewed
Este me gustó más que The love we share without knowing.

Me encanta que hay muchos temas para escoger y te saca la carcajada de vez en cuando.
Luke Narlee
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Easily one of my favorite short story collections ever. This author never fails to impress me. The stories are all over the place, from mysterious, to weird, to touching, to creepy. Some touch on adolescents/growing up, others are ghost stories. They all stick with you, though. I read this book years ago and The story "The drowned mermaid" still haunts me to this day with it's perfect mix of unsettling beauty.

Author Christopher Barzak has quite the imagination and his words (as always) flow lik
Pedro Marroquín
Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Muy oscuros relatos, en su mayoría bastante cortos, en los que habla de violaciones, niños muertos, fantasmas con algo que reivindicar. Bastante amargo, pero excelentemente escrito, recomiendo leer en dosis cortas para no deprimirte demasiado. Pero en cualquier caso, bastante recomendable, como todo lo escrito por este autor. B+
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic, very memorable collection of short stories. As always, I look forward to reading more from Barzak.
Seregil of Rhiminee
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Originally published at Risingshadow.

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
Jeremy Howell
An excellent entry point for sampling what Barzak has to offer. While the stories are often ghostly, they're more hopeful than horrifying. Prose sings from the pages, and his characters come to life and dance along.

Overall one of the most solid short-story collections I've read. Map of Seventeen and The Language of Moths were standouts to me, and I'm sure I'll revisit them over and over again.
I gave this book 4.5 stars, per the ratings on each story; however it fully deserves a 5. A collection of 17 short stories. A REAL WINNER OF A BOOK.

Odd and off-beat, these unusual tales frightens, depress and disturb the reader. Deeply psychological, creepy even they are written well and with deep sympathy for human nature. Very imaginative! Unique! Imagery is exceptional!

What We Know About the Lost Families of ____ House - the _____House has a History; it absorbs people, apparently…. This is a
Jen Doucette
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Rarely do I read short story collections, but when I knew the author and had sat in English class with him, my curiosity reigned. Because the setting of many of the stories was where I grew up, it was a nostalgic stroll through my childhood at times. But, the setting was the only aspect tinged in nostalgia; the stories were sad, eerie, or even a bit creepy.

Here are a few of my favorites:

The Drowned Mermaid about a woman caring for a nearly drowned mermaid.

I loved Dead Boy Found, but I loved th
Brad Medd
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Having been captivated by Barzak's novels, I was burning to try his short stories. 'Before and Afterlives' is a beautiful collection where each story is as unique and gorgeously written as the last. It's a good introduction to the author's work and new readers will get a taste for Barzak's variety, magical realism and beautiful imagination.

Barzak's love for the world, in all its colour and complications, shines through every word he strings together. I'm never sure what to say at the end of Chr
Kelly Lynn Thomas
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Nice, even collection of fantastic stories grounded in real places. This definitely leans on the dark side, with post-industrial settings and some twisted ideas. Barzak plays with gender and sexuality as well, which is a total bonus in my book. These are worth reading, though I also think they are worth reading one at a time instead of like a novel where you read one after the other so they all blend in together.
Samantha Davenport
Mar 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
These are truly beautiful stories. Not only because the words flow like melted chocolate but because the supernatural elements illuminate humanity and reflect it back so very wisely. Such a pleasure that I'm sure to be reading all his other work.
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
These stories are sometimes spooky or haunting, and sometimes sad or angry, but always a pleasure. I loved the ghost stories particularly. The dark fantasies, like "The Drowned Mermaid" and "Smoke City" were also powerful, and the contemporary fantasies like "Plenty" were inspirational.
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Is there really a bar in San Francisco that is frequented by large numbers of displaced Y-towners?
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Eerie yet beautiful. Every single one of these stories holds its weight. 5/5
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Well, I've never really read a short-story collection like this before. Most of these stories are quite dark and weird, while other ones are just really sad, but they all tend to fall more on the horror side of fiction with a bit of fantasy mixed in. My favourite ones were:

- "What We Know About The Lost Families Of - House" - which manages to both a satire about haunted house stories (especially the ones by Shirley Jackson) and it's own creepy tale
- "The Drowned Mermaid" - about a woman who adop
S.L. Saboviec
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 sin
Sierra Ferrante
Mar 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: firstread
This was interesting. The cover work is beautifully done. The stories are original. This reminds me of nothing else I have read. I'm not sure I am the best judge to review this since it was so different. I will say it is artistic and creative. I don't think it is my style and was a bit beyond what I would look for in a series of stories. If a reader is looking for something thought provoking and different this book is a great pick. The writing is well done. It's a bit dark and twisted, but in an ...more
Dec 23, 2013 rated it liked it
This anthology comprises tales of the ghosts, spirits, and those 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 f ...more
Aug 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
These stories are pointless. They go nowhere and the writing isn't worth the journey.
Jessie McMains
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Christopher Barzak is the author of the Crawford Award winning novel, One for Sorrow, which was made into the Sundance feature film, Jamie Marks is Dead. His second novel, The Love We Share Without Knowing, was a finalist for the Nebula and Tiptree Awards. His third novel, Wonders of the Invisible World, is a Stonewall Honor Book. He is also the author of Before and Afterlives, which won the Shirl ...more

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