It’s an Old Prejudice

tapesWhen my wife was alive and commuting daily at least 45 minutes to work, she loved recorded books, mostly mysteries and usually abridged. For a few years I joined her in the commute and it was obvious how the recorded books relieved the tedium of the drive and I had to agree with her, the abridged versions left out a lot of boring description and made the trip more pleasant. Due to the number and size of the abridged tapes, she was enjoying a typical novel in just two days. Recorded books were, as they say, better than mayonnaise.

I knew a few readers that used recorded books to cover the hours washing dishes, weeding the garden, or ironing the sheets (they still do that?). Being an avid reader myself, I tried recorded books, thinking it was another avenue to expand my reading. What a disaster!

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The Remarkable Raymond Federman

FedermanRaymond Federman is one of those authors whose personal story is equally as fascinating as anything most writers come up with. It’s so interesting that Federman uses it as the basic of most of his own writing, with one caveat: Federman insists that he cannot tell the difference between imagination and reality. So, this Federman who is the hero of all the novels … is he the real Federman, an embellished Federman, based on Federman, Federman-like, what Federman wishes Federman was, just a horny French Jew who tells a lot of stories?

The reality is that Raymond Federman grew up in Paris as a very recognizable Jew (he calls attention to his nose constantly) until the Nazis marched into Paris and he was initially hidden and eventually smuggled to the relative safety of Vichy France. His family—mother, father, and two sisters—stayed behind and went to their deaths in the Nazi camps. Raymond, of course, did not know the fate of his family and expected to be reunited with them in Paris after the end of the conflict.

Federman’s novel, Return To Manure, tells the story of his three years working on a farm in the south of France.

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