The Remarkable Raymond Federman

Raymond 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?

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Captain Fiction

“I began to write fiction on the assumption that the true enemies of the novel were plot, character, setting and theme.” — John Hawkes

LishI agree with Hawkes. Literature, especially as taught in Junior High English classes, is too important to insist on those archaic unities. Plots went out with I Love Lucy where Desiderio Arnaz clearly demonstrated that there were only three plots known to man, the rest being variations masking as variety. Character is hard to avoid but the classic importance of character development is easy to forget (no, you do not need to identify or fall in love with one of the characters). Setting is only important when the writer needs to bolster his narrative with a setting which evokes themes he (or she) is incapable of evoking himself. Do we need themes? Not really. I suspect the development of thematic fiction was good but it risked falling easily into didactic fiction and that is bad.

I might say that everything is thematic: the boy and girl theme, the levels of fiction theme, the remembrance of things past theme, the talking dog at the end of the world theme. The problem with themes is that they, like plots, get repeated a lot and no amount of variation hides a tired old theme.

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The Plot Thickens

I notice that several searches that reach this site are asking for the plot to one of the books I read or mentioned (like in my Bookshelves). I associate these searches with young students, Junior High or below, that are either trying to avoid reading the  book in question or are looking for some authorization for what they want to say but are not yet comfortable with their own opinions and analysis.

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