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The Story of a Childhood

by Raymond Federman


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Shhh tells the incredible story of Raymond Federman's escape from the round-up of French Jews in Paris in 1942, during the Holocaust. As French police came up the stairs to the family's apartment, Federman's mother said, Shhh, and pushed the then-14 year-old boy into a closet. The other members of his family, his father, mother, and two sisters, perished in Auschwitz.But no story by Federman has ever been simply told, and Shhh is no exception. Defying conventions of both the memoir and the novel, Federman tells stories of his childhood that may or may not be true, but can never simply be called false, either. The result is a complex and masterful work by a writer whose final works may be his best—an author who, while too avant-garde for the tastes of American publishers, is considered a major writer in Germany, France, and elsewhere in the world, and has had a small but dedicated following in the US for more than three decades.In Chut, Federman tells the final chapter of the biography he has been recalling for some forty years. The original \u2018shhh' of his mother as she pushed him into the closet. To the question \u2018why me?' he still doesn't have an answer, but he dedicates the book to this person who saved him. And he tries to rebuild his childhood with blocks of words. This childhood is inevitably full of holes—not only because he doesn't remember it entirely, but also because he makes digressive lists of things to remember and then forgets things off them. He makes lists, promises to tell other stories later, doesn't tell them but then benefits from the non-telling to make a poem. In short, full-blown \u2018Federmanism.' With contempt for chronology, he describes a childhood without beginning or end.—Le Monde (Paris), on Chut, the French version of the text Federman has transacted into English as Shhh.

Publication Details

Dzanc Books
Starcherone Books
Publication Date:


Raymond Federman (Author)

Raymond Federman (1928–2009) emigrated to the United States in 1947. In some thirty works self-described as "surfiction," "playgiarism," and "laughterature," he built a myth of himself out of his life story and its constantly changing and reinterp...

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