Tuesday 15 February 2011


Raymond Federman, Double or Nothing (1971)

Once upon a time two or three weeks ago, a rather stubborn and determined middle-aged man decided to record for posterity, exactly as it happened, word by word and step by step, the story of another man for indeed what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal, a somewhat paranoiac fellow unmarried, unattached, and quite irresponsible, who had decided to lock himself in a room a furnished room with a private bath, cooking facilities, a bed, a table, and at least one chair, in New York City, for a year 365 days to be precise, to write the story of another person—a shy young man about of 19 years old—who, after the war the Second World War, had come to America the land of opportunities from France under the sponsorship of his uncle—a journalist, fluent in five languages—who himself had come to America from Europe Poland it seems, though this was not clearly established sometime during the war after a series of rather gruesome adventures, and who, at the end of the war, wrote to the father his cousin by marriage of the young man whom he considered as a nephew, curious to know if he the father and his family had survived the German occupation, and indeed was deeply saddened to learn, in a letter from the young man—a long and touching letter written in English, not by the young man, however, who did not know a damn word of English, but by a good friend of his who had studied English in school—that his parents both his father and mother and his two sisters one older and the other younger than he had been deported they were Jewish to a German concentration camp Auschwitz probably and never returned, no doubt having been exterminated deliberately X * X * X * X, and that, therefore, the young man who was now an orphan, a displaced person, who, during the war, had managed to escape deportation by working very hard on a farm in Southern France, would be happy and grateful to be given the opportunity to come to America that great country he had heard so much about and yet knew so little about to start a new life, possibly go to school, learn a trade, and become a good, loyal citizen. —

I'd want to read on. I'd need to wear my glasses and develop a lot more patience, but I would want to know what came next


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hi Nancy
    It's a famous opening.
    A book of confusion, chaos and the kaleidoscope of new experiences?
    I have no idea - never read it ;)

  3. Gah! My reading of that was hampered by the bleeding of my eyeballs.

  4. I couldn't get past the 7th or 8th line. lol.
    Just goes to show, someone loved it enough to publish it.

  5. Hi Ben
    I know a thing or two about bleeding eye balls - I posted on it last week :D (Or it may have been active sentence construction ;))

    Hi Karen
    It did take some serious reading to get from start to end with a degree of understanding :)

  6. Whoa. My head is spinning from that one.

    Thanks for joining us for the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest. It should be fun :)