Aunt Rachel's Fur

Raymond Federman, Author F2c $13.95 (280p) ISBN 978-1-57366-093-8
Novelist R mond Namredef, the narrator of this endlessly inventive and unorthodox fiction, is on his way back to France after having lived in the United States for 10 years. R mond is not returning in the role of the rich American, although he claims to have a wealthy American girlfriend, Susan. In the U.S., it seems, he supported himself through a series of odd jobs, among them one as a jazz musician. These autobiographical details are imparted by R mond to a ""professional listener"" in a number of cafes in Paris. Federman has adopted Raymond Roussel's trick of telling a story for the sake of its digressions. The digressions here include R mond's childhood, his life in hiding from the Nazis during the occupation, his multitudinously scheming extended family and his Aunt Rachel's legendary existence. Aunt Rachel escaped from the orphanage in which R mond's mother, Marguerite, was also kept and proceeded to enjoy a mysterious international career. At the end of the war, she returns to visit the family, clothed in a very expensive fur. The fur represents success and sexuality, but it also represents the life of luxury, calm and satisfaction that has eluded R mond. The novel proceeds from conversation to conversation, the talking punctuated by a bit of desultory action notably, R mond's lunch date chez M. Laplume, a famous writer, where he meets the editor of a publishing house and tries to impress her with his sophistication, hoping vainly that she will take his novel. Federman, who was born in France but has spent his adult life teaching and writing in the United States, is the grand old man of American experimental writing; hopefully his reputation won't daunt potential readers of this novel, which is extremely accessible and funny. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/09/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
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