Friday, October 09, 2009

In Memoriam: Raymond Federman

Brilliant novelist, poet and academic Raymond Federman passed away this week. The news left many shocked and saddened, but also disheartening is how few are familiar with his incredible work.

The man could write novels the equal of Beckett's (and I mean the Irish Nobel winner, not Federman's dalmatian). He could write a charged and evocative poem on the impossibility of putting the "human debacle" onto paper, or a half-insane poem about a potato turning into a tomato. A potato. Turning into a tomato. Now tell me that's not someone you must read.

Still not convinced? Just take a look at this excerpt from the definitive encyclopedia of all things Federman:

Have you ever tried to catch a Federman word on your tongue and hold it still? Force it to respond to your theoretical frame? Since such critical desires distort the Federmaniacal word and since so many Federmanesque writers are possessed by parachutal syntax, we tried to create a form that would perform Federman rather than be simply "about" Federman. Since Federman himself as a wearer of reversible jackets (i.e., a writer) is obsessed with lists, with cataloging, with mapping the terrain of intertextual repetitions (echoes blasted from beyond the thunderdome), (parenthetical digressions) outside the domain of quotation marks, we felt that an organization built on the basic premise of encyclopedia and infested with hypertextual hot bottoms would come closest to providing readers with their own Federman experience.

- Doug Rice, "Before Beginning" From Federman A to X-X-X-X: A Recyclopedic Narrative

I mean, come on.

It's quite a blow, losing Federman, and friends and fans around the world are mourning. Let's work to ensure a new generation discovers and falls in love with the work of this one-of-a-kind author.

To visit Federman's personal website, click here, and for his blog, click here.

To take a closer look at Federman, A to X-X-X-X, quoted above, click here.