November 15, 2006
RETURN TO MANURE REVIEWED IN PUBLISHERS WEEKLY . . .
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Federman pursues his work of memory and imagination with a gravity always kept at a distance, and a touch of nostalgia constantly undercut by a saving humor.”—Le Monde
“In this kind of road movie that oscillates between derision, humor, grinding of teeth, stuttering of memory, pure and simple inventions, and even lies, the old story-teller Federman is not afraid to drivel on. A prodigious masterpiece.”—L’Humanité
“In the tragicomic mode, one cannot do better.”—Télérana
In 1942, after hiding to escape the Nazis, our narrator (named, simply, Federman) finds his way to Vichy France. Unwanted by his relatives, he is forced to spend the remainder of the war as an unpaid laborer. For three wordless years on the farm, this thirteen-year-old is assailed by suffering, death, sex, and the back-breaking labor of shoveling manure.
Sixty years later, in the United States, Federma--the author? the narrator? both?--wrestles with nostalgia and bitterness. He finally returns to the farm with his wife, but once the journey is complete he no longer knows why he has made it, nor what he expected to find. Through the merger of fact and fiction, storytelling and reality, memoir and imagination, Return to Manure extends and enhances Raymond Federman’s brilliant ability to side-step narration’s limits and impossibilities.