Wry, cantankerous and darkly hilarious aren't the adjectives one expects to use in describing the story of a young boy orphaned by the Holocaust, but veteran experimental writer Federman (Aunt Rachel's Fur), who lost his own family to the Nazis, eschews overt horror and sadness in favor of a lively exploration of the way memory both stimulates and frustrates the storytelling urge. The novel recounts the attempts of the narrator-whose name, biography and bibliography are nearly identical to Federman's-to locate the French farm where he hid from authorities during World War II. It becomes clear early on that the reader is being led on a ""double journey...a journey in search of the farm...And the journey in search of the book."" As in the best experimental fiction, form and content compliment one another, and the narrator's fragmented memories unfold in a series of engaging anecdotes involving a misanthropic old farmer, a lonely farm wife, a soon-to-be castrated bull and a mysterious woman in a nearby castle. As the title suggests, there are plenty of mordant musings, a; la Beckett, on the nature of life, death and excrement. There's also plenty of pathos: the narrator's memories of his father, ""the dreamer, l'artiste manque, the tubercular romantic,"" are both merciless and deeply moving. A self-conscious and soulful novel, Federman's latest will be relished by his fans and new readers alike.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2006 Release date: 09/01/2006 Genre: Fiction