June 01, 2009


my lovely daughter Simone wrote my obituary

Pop ad infinitum

So here it is the first of many reflections,

ah federman already with the evasive pretensions what do you mean reflections? you mean to say obituary

- No he is still living, very much living, he played golf the other day, went to the casino, won ten dollars, for god’s sake- do you think he would like you mentioning that god guy

- oh he wouldn’t mind he is very open minded at this point

- you did say his name in vein

-oy now you too.

So as I was saying I imagine I will write stuff


like this over and over but upon reflection I realized Federman himself would be the one who would most like to read it, so why wait? Like an espionage agent, he would love to be able to get a glimpse of what is being said about him once he isn’t saying it anymore. Those of you that know him know all too well this is true. So Pop this is for you too. These comments are open to your reflections upon them, edits, critiques, response or even silence

- That would be very uncharacteristic.

– Can’t you find another format for your digressions? The lack of punctuation and these italics interruptions may irritate the reader.

-His readers are extremely patient with all sorts of hijinks

- This is important, the guys fucking obituary after all. Shouldn’t you be more serious and sincere?

- Without the digressions I might wax sentimental and maybe even grim

- That would really bug him he hates those two things

- True, he has spent his life making a point of, an oeuvre of, not talking about the dead at least not sentimentally for god’s sake

- there’s that g-man again

- okay you made that point, let’s carry on

- carry on.

-Shouldn’t we first acknowledge the fact that this whole style thing is bald faced plagiarism

- He spells it playgerism; anyway, he likes that mostly when it is from le source.

- Ah le source, yes, he likes that, the blood, the Federman line, the lineage

- Hey this is my obituary now you are hijacking it, write your own.

- Oh come on, we can share this one. go on where were we, sorry, I mean you? Oh. Wait! before you go on blame him for the fucked up punctuation and the way it is hard to understand who is talking. Remember you tried to correct it when you worked on sssh but he was stubborn about it. This dramatic dialogue format works well.

- He wasn’t very stubborn we had a great time working together. It made me feel so proud to be his daughter.

-Okay I think we are back to where you need to be, watch the tears though, he hates that and you are getting the keyboard all wet!

Raymond Federman means many things to many people. Hundreds if not thousands of people love him very much, will mourn his passing with profound sorrow. For me it is beyond comprehension. He is my Pop, my best friend, always has been for the last forty six years. Maybe before but I wouldn’t know,

- Ah so you’re thinking you are a fictitious fabrication?

- Only he would know because he is older than I am. He was there before I knew I was.

- He doesn’t always act it, older that is.

- This is not the place for insults.

- It was a loving joke, not an insult; his youthful exuberance is one of his best traits why don’t you mention that.

- I will if you could just control the interruptions, I was just getting on a roll

-d’accord, go ahead.

- Even if he said we had been friends, best friends more than forty six and a half years he might be lying; he is not a very reliable story teller

- You could ask your mother she is more grounded in reality

- Really you think so?

- Okay maybe not, but she has sure helped him.

- As his mother would say “he always has his head in the clouds”

- Well, that is what you say he says she said.

–True that but so it is written, as they say...

So Pop, my Pop and I ARE CLOSE, REAL CLOSE.

-wHOA that was weird why did everything go big all of a sudden? For emphasis?

- No I just hit the “CapsLk” key instead of the shift key I do it all the time.

- You don’t type very well, do you think that is because of all the afternoons you spent in his office after school writing concrete poetry on his IBM Selectric

- Yes the one with the ball, maybe…

He was so loving those afternoons in his beautiful office, on the old campus on Main St. He always made me feel like those poems I wrote, most of them just letters all garbled up not even words, were really brilliant. He has always made me feel like I am brilliant. I hated it when the ball would get jammed. He seemed so smart the way he could get me rolling again making that sound I loved so much. I would hear that sound all the time, the sound of the Selectric.

I used to love the sound when I would hear it stop upstairs on the third floor and then the best sound of all, the sound of his feet gliding down the edges of the stairs as he flew down the stairs, down to the second floor where I was often playing. I used to practice sliding down the front of the steps real quickly like him. I don’t know if it was practice I think I just am a lot like him

- You still are.

- I know, sad isn’t, I will miss him so much.

- Oh don’t start your crying again, “stop your balling” as Patsy would say

- I had terminal cancer I had good reason to cry

- You and your excuses, I suppose you think you have good reason now too, finish your story…

Where was I, where am I going with this? I guess I could start describing the most vivid memories I have of our time together. Being that he is still living and I talk to him every day, usually a few times a day I should probably use the present tense. It may be confusing, this living obituary style is a new form.

- The quotation marks he would have hated, don’t you think?

- Probably, but they do come in handy. Present tense!!..

The last time I saw him he tried to shoot the traffic light like he always did when we were in the car together which was often. He could shoot the light and make it turn green. His aim was not always good but he would just try again and again and eventually he always hit it. I think what is so remarkable about that was the frequency with which he played that game and still does. And every time I still feel amazed by the magic.

- While ridiculing his silliness. Not the last time you saw him forever just most recently.

-This tense shit makes me tense…

I loved our outings. Every Sunday morning we would drive to the drugstore to pick up the New York Times, it is only as an adult I realized it could be delivered. My Pop would buy Gauloises, often a carton always non filtered. He would give me my dollar allowance and I would shop for a Hot Wheel car for my collection. At the cashier he would pretend he didn’t have any more money when I asked him for the $.06 I needed to complete my transaction. The Hot Wheels cost $. 99 with tax $1.07. He always said he didn’t have it he always gave it to me anyway. He still does. He usually says he can’t afford anything then he is very generous, extravagant even.

If my mother asks him to bring her a drink of water he always says “Non” as he reaches for the glass

- What a character, an idiosyncratic individual. Give another example…

When he sees a view he likes to

- Not likes to, it is he can’t control himself.

-Good point- now shut up for a minute...

When he sees a view he goes “Oh lala!” a really great view gets “Oh lalaOhlala merde c’est formidable!” always with a “regarde Simone, regarde Erica!” There was a trip when the three of us drove across Europe. We would stop at many, many view platforms or rather places on the side of the road and he would make us get out of the car and he would always let out an “ Ohlala” sometimes with an exclamation point kind of loud and operatic “Ohlala, Ohlala!” sometimes soft and slow, quietly no exclamation point.”ohlala,olalaola” I used to count how many refrains he would make and I decided the most were at Kotor Yugoslavia. We were on a curvy road up above the village of Kotor. I don’t remember how many “ohlalaOhlalaOhlala”s occurred but it was a lot, believe me, the most ever. I was almost in more awe of his persistence than the view but it was very beautiful. I remember that view, that day very clearly for some reason. Maybe it is because one year later I read in the paper maybe saw it on TV; there had been a horrible earthquake in Yugoslavia and a road had collapsed on a tiny village named Kotor. It was completely destroyed, vanished.

- You still have your memories.

- Oh don’t be trite. This isn’t a sappy movie. I am dealing with the most difficult thing I have ever had to deal with in my entire life, worse than my own illness. I am trying

- You are doing a good job. I’m sorry. It is really hard for me too you know.

On that trip we had a project: to kept track of the best crème caramels in the world. We were the self appointed judges of the European Crème Caramel Competition. We tried them everywhere and ranked each one we tested.

- So which one won, our readers might like to know, this book might actually contain some worthwhile information.

The Best Crème Caramel was definitively anointed at a small restaurant in France- bien sur called Hotel Luberon, I think that is the name of the town too. Might be misspelled

- Maybe you should look it up while I write this damn obituary before we all die!
Mom most likely found the place in the Michelin guide. I think they might have had a bottle of some fancy wine from 1928 that night too. I remember that because that is the year he was born.

-I am starting to think you are making this stuff up!

-Okay maybe that wasn’t the same meal but it was the same trip and his birth date is documented. There are documents, I have seen his birth certificate that he found in the little closet in the bedroom when he went back to the apartment after the war. (Read about it in ssh due in bookstores fall’09) Anyway, what does it matter he won’t remember and makes stuff up all the time.

-He has no memory just fictitious fabrications.

-Is there really any difference?

- Of course not, that much he taught you.

Maybe this would be a good place to insert my published piece Mon Pere le Fictionare

– You are starting to throw in an awful lot of advertisements don’t you think? French no less!

- That’s true it is published in both languages.

-This insertion stuff is so derivative too, it was confusing enough when he did it all the time in Sssh. I thought you were trying to avoid his preclusions

- I think it is too late for that

- Besides your readers have probably already read that damn piece in French or English or heard it at your slide show in Buffalo, you are bugging me a bit the way you are so much like him, kind of creepy

- Oh relax, they can skip over it if they want.

- Well then include the slide show narration, and then the publisher can throw in the photos, people like that. Besides you will probably have a wider readership than he ever did with those Federman A to XXXX books.

- True he is bound to get really famous posthumously.

- Always happens.

- Sad isn’t it he always wanted the notoriety, acclaim.

- He did pretty well for himself.

- Yeah but he wanted to write that one great book the one he would be remembered for.

- Oh he will be remembered no question.

- He wrote a great story in the form of many books.

- Like Proust? Beckett?

- No even better he wrote them like Federman.

- No one like him, just one Federman.

- No one but you.

- True but I think he would be happy I was riding on his coattails.

- He always wa..is so proud of you.

-I love him so much.

- Me too.

-I know you do.

-Is that it? Are we done?

-For now. He isn’t dead yet silly.

-Good point. Done with this installment then.

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