Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

Aunt Rachel's Fur

Aunt Rachel's Fur

Aunt Rachel's Fur
by Raymond Federman

Paperback
2001
Price: $13.95

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In Aunt Rachel's Fur, Raymond Federman—French by birth, American by adoption, Jew by memory—plays with the language of his childhood to construct a story from digressions. Federman's narrative spirals into a temporal abyss as he rummages in old memories tattooed with cabbages, plump breasts, and the Final Solution. His book swirls with the narrative innovations that mark him as a leading experimenal surfictioneer.


Aunt Rachel's Fur is a novel about its own telling, an intimate meeting between voice and reader, in which flesh and blood are reduced to fiction, and fiction, by its telling, becomes fact. Reymond Namredef, a French expatriate, has returned to France after a disastrous decade in America, with 365 boxes of pasta and the hope of publishing his novel about a novelist. In a cafe in Paris, he meets a "professional listener," and, through a series of conversations, offers a loose account of his life that shows little respect for chronology. His story is woven of fragments, branching out over a lifetime and capturing the alchemy of fiction and memory.


Faced with the chaos of the twentieth century, Federman finds humanity in the absurd. Like novelists Mark Amerika and Ronald Sukenick, he skewers literary convention and pushes the boundary of postmodernism. Aunt Rachel's Fur is both a tribute to his love of the word—the story as it is told—and a further exploration of our understanding of fiction.

"Those with more adventurous palates will find it interesting and highly entertaining."—PopMatters

"M. Namderef is a failed writer-and a failed American-who has returned home to Paris to confront his past, escape his lover, and publish his novel, "A Time of Noodles" (about a failed writer who survives on noodles for a year). But Namderef is also a liar and a literary provocateur, so who can tell what's true? Between Namderef's "Playgiarism" and Federman's "auto-bio-graffiti," an eclectic and ribald novel emerges, of family strife, class conflict, and French Jewishness."—The New Yorker, May 7, 2001

"This most recent novel, written first in French then translated to a sort of French-English hybrid in some instances, highlights the life of Namredef as told by him to various audiences. Federman seems to play with several notions of language through his manipulation of this character. Not only is the protagonist a writer himself, writing a novel seemingly similar (in tone, but not in narrative) to the one which Federman presents to the reader, but he also narrated the tale to another listener, illustrating the different storytelling methods and tones employed when speaking to different people. These techniques seem to bring into question the "truth" of the story that Namredef narrates (and Federman writes) as well as allowing a lengthy discussion throughout the novel about the act of writing itself.


According to Federman, the 'truth' is what he writes, not necessarily the reality of the 'story':


I don't believe in credibility, it handicaps me, you see for me the simple fact of saying that I was living with Susan in her apartment becomes instantly the truth. . . you make a face, I know what I'm talking about, truth, you want to know what truth is, it's only what one says and necessarily what one does, in real life words are always true and actions false . . . .


Stating this in the early pages of the novel, this question of truth allows the reader to consistently discredit the narrator and to question his position as a 'truthteller' in works of fiction in general."—Daphne Potts, PopMatters


"Yes, the credit line is right: this novel is "transacted," not "translated," form the French.


Aunt Rachel's Fur is Federman's seventh novel and the first to be set entirely in France. More importantly, its telling takes place in France as well. After living ten tough years in America, Federman's expatriate narrator has returned to Paris, intent upon placing his novel with a French publisher and pursuing a writer's career in the Gallic manner. But the plan doesn't work, because the protagonist has become too American, too much of an innovative fictionist for the French literary establishment. So it's back to the U. S. and a resumption of the struggle to be a writer there.


The novel Federman's narrator is trying to sell resembles his own classic work, Double or Nothing (1971) and so the story has a happy ending implied: as a writer, the guy eventually made it. But as happens so often in literature, it's the teller and his telling that are more important than the tale. Hence this "transacted" business. For 280 pages the speaker sits in a series of Parisian cafes, telling a listener why he's returned to his childhood home and what he expects to accomplish. In the process, virtually all the materials of the Ferderman canon are rehearsed: early life with his family, their erasure in the Holocaust, his survival as a farm worker in Vichy France, the selfish cruelty of his surviving relatives, his emigration to America and years of struggle at the bottom of the economic heap, his U. S. Citizenship, Army service, education, and first efforts as a writer. What's new is the story referred to in the title-his glamorously mysterious Aunt Rachel, jeweled and in furs and promising a better way of life, sex and all.


As compelling as the saga is, it is even more remarkable to hear the narrator talk about it. That's why the novel has the listener built in: for every writerly trick there's a corresponding readerly reaction, with the ongoing story being shaped by both. This transaction between the writer and reader is given another dimension in the language itself; while predominantly American, it is flavored with working class Parisian slang (the meaning of which are easily surmised) and colored overall by the shadings of France literary masters-the full range of them, from Racine and Voltaire to Samuel Beckett and Boris Vian. Given who he is, Federman's narrator cannot escape these influences. But he can indeed reshape them, being sordid yet without Zola's preoccupation with detail, angry but lacking the vilification that ruins Celine, lyrical but short of the preciousness that sometimes cloys in the work of Paul Celan. These writers are all cited, of course, quite naturally because Federman's narrator is contemplating joining forces with them.


Yet in the end he doesn't, and for a very good reason that the transacted narrative dramatizes. For Federman's narrator, and perhaps for Federman himself, the literary dimensions of France remain a closed system, while America's imaginatively open space allows a least a hint of freedom. Maybe that freedom is illusory, as utopian as the too-good-to-be-true promises of life as lived by Aunt Rachel. But in the U. S. the protagonist can, at least, write. And as he explains to a recalcitrant Parisian sub-editor, 'your life is not the story you write, the story you write is your life.'"—Jerome Klinkowitz, Rain Taxi, Summer 2001


Excerpt


Oh You Want to Know Why...


Oh so you want to know why I came back to this country, this stinking country, why after ten years, ten years over there, in Amerrr-ica, I decided to come back here...


Oh no, not for a vacation...


Tourism...you must be kidding, not me, I hate monuments, they depress me, and here in La Belle France all their monuments, all their statues smell of the dead, how morbid...


No I didn’t come back for that, and certainly not to see the family, well what’s left of it, ah my family, what a bunch of bastards, cheaters, thieves, radins, all of them, aunts uncles cousins, wallowing in guilt and envy, everyone envious of the other, but I suppose it’s like that with all families...


Used to be a large family, eight brothers and sisters on my mother’s side, nine on my father’s side, but on that side only three cousins left, the rest, all of them, remade into lampshades, but on mother’s side, they all survived...


Except my...


No, I can assure you, it’s not to say hello, coucou me voilà, here I am, still alive, that I came back to France after ten years over there, ten fucking years of stumbling from one misfortune to another...


Okay, so I could say I came back because I love Paris, ah Paree, the place in the world where humanity has reached the highest intellectual level, therefore it’s here that one finds the highest form of suffering, in Paris one suffers from not suffering enough, but that’s not the reason why I came back...


You have to understand, things were not going very well for me over there in America, you can say that again, not at all, no steady job, no place of my own, broke all the time, depressed, lonely, sad, homesick, lost in the great disenchantment of American reality, lost in the Walt Disney illusion...


Lonely, ah yes, lonely too, no real friends, nobody, and then one day, inevitably, kicked out from that crummy furnished room in the Bronx full of cockroaches, talk to me about American modernity, there wasn’t even a fucking toilet in the room, it was down the corridor, and did it stink in there, eight bucks a week I was paying for that hole in the wall, that sad pathetic hole in the wall, in the Bronx...


Yes, thrown out of my apartment because I couldn’t pay the rent, what could I do, always broke, no education, no profession, so all I could get were miserable temporary jobs, you think it’s fun to be a dishwasher in filthy grease joints, I tell you, the shit that fell on me from all sides, yeah, talk to me about shit, I’ve seen it in all colors, all forms, shapes, textures, hard, soft, smelly, dégoulinante, parfumée, wait till you hear the rest of this story, you’ll see the shit, and on top of that, the chick I was shacking up with dumped me, like I was a piece of shit, a burnt out lightbulb...


We had a fight, about money, Susan was rich, that’s her name, but American women who have money you cannot imagine how stingy they can be, and Susan she was loaded, she had inherited a million dollars, yes one million from an old aunt in Boston, can you believe that, I’m not exaggerating, one fucking million bucks, I was dumbfounded when she told me, I would have married her immediately if she’d let me, with all that dough we could have been so happy Susan and I...


Ah Susan, that’s really her name, but me I always called her Sucette, you know Sucette, like a lollipop, because she always gave me fantastic blow jobs, I don’t know where she learned, but I tell you, for a rich puritan American, a Wasp from Boston, Sucette when it came to sucking, wow...


What a fight we had, I had borrowed 50 bucks from her to pay my rent in the Bronx, but instead of paying the rent I lost the money in a poker game in Brooklyn, some dumb assholes I met in a bar, so I tried to borrow another 50 from Susan, and that’s when we had that fight, she told me I was irresponsible, I’d never learn, you should have seen her face, when Susan gets angry, she’s even more beautiful, more sexy, she told me I was irresponsible, that I had no sense of human relations, thatthaaat thaat thaat iiiiiaieaiiii, she was so angry she started stammering, she who always speaks so clearly, so correctly, wow was she beautiful, Susan, maybe a bit grassouillette, you know a bit too rounded, especially around the ass, but sexy like hell, with boobs like grapefruits, nice and firm, me I like them nice and firm, the skin, soft and milky, and eyes, big blue eyes which changed color whenever her moods changed, she has oceans of all colors in her eyes, sometimes calm, other times stormy, ah Susan, Susan, did she love to screw, yes, it’s too bad, in a way we loved each other...


Okay, you see what a lousy situation I was in, really piss poor, alright, so I was writing, working on a novel, my first novel, and normally, I’ve been told, a guy is supposed to suffer when he writes a novel, and when it comes to suffering I own all the records...


My novel...you want to know what it’s about...


Alright, quickly, more or less the story of my life up to...up to now, well, a version of my life, you know what I mean, it’s hard to stick to the facts when the fever of recitation grabs you, one version among many possible others, somewhat distorted, exaggerated, accelerated, embellished, and greatly romanticized, what the hell, what’s the point of writing your life if you can’t improve it a bit, one can only tell the truth, I mean the real truth, with detours and lies, it’s an old dictum, and besides, the only way a life can pass for literature is through exaggerations...


So, I was writing a novel, my first one, I was at it already two years when I decided to pack it in and get the fuck out of that stinking country...


Wow, was I fed up with America...


So, you want me to tell you more about the novel, okay just a few words, since you insist, it’s the story of a guy who locks himself in a room for one year with boxes of noodles, 365 boxes to be exact, one per day, he calculates, to write a novel about a guy who locks himself in a room for one year with 365 boxes of noodles to write the story of his life, does that make sense to you...


Yes noodles, pasta...you see the guy doesn’t have much money, that’s why he chooses noodles to write his novel, noodles are cheap and they keep forever, as you can see it’s a story of survival, the guy swears not to come out of the room before he finishes his novel, and since he has very little dough, he decides that he will survive only on noodles, in his case it’s okay because the guy loves noodles, like me, I adore noodles, give me a good portion of baked macaroni sprinkled with Parmesan cheese on top and I can last forever...


Well, enough of that, I’ll tell you more about A Time of Noodles later...

Yes, that’s the title of the book the guy is writing, A Time of Noodles, but now I want to tell you why I was fed up with America and why I dropped the damn place to come back to my...my mother country...


You see what really bugged me over there was the reality of America, reality, my ass, you want me to tell you something, nobody gives a damn about reality, and you know why, because reality is always a disenchantment, la réalité c’est du bluff, I think it’s Rimbaud who said that, reality is fake, or maybe it’s somebody else, another mad poet, doesn’t matter...what makes reality fascinating at times, it’s the imaginary catastrophe that hides behind it, especially behind the American reality, I could tell you a few things about the catastrophe of American reality, I know what I’m talking about...


Here let me tell you more about America and my misfortunes over there, ah the U.S.A. what a disaster, and for me, ten years of disaster, ten years of dégringolade, you want to know why I came back to Paris, I came back to see if I could start a new life, a quiet normal regular life, finish my novel, about the guy with the noodles, have it published by a good maison d’édition, and after that...after that, we’ll see, maybe find myself a cute sexy gonzesse who will make me happy, a nice girl, less stingy than Susan, but I must tell you, it was not an easy decision to come back to this...ce fumier de pays, that’s because of what happened here during...during my childhood...


Ah my childhood, what a hole, what an abyss of misery, did I eat shit when I was a kid, you wouldn’t believe it, wait till you hear...


I was so fed up with America, the great American dream, more like a nightmare, a nightmare of misery, violence, loneliness, bigotry, racism, greed, and everywhere, everywhere failures who still believe in the American dream, drunks, winos, jobless homeless bums who sleep on the sidewalk in cardboard boxes or wrapped in newspapers, bagladies who push their little buggies from one garbage can to another, dope addicts with eyes like oysters, and everywhere cowards, assholes, religious fanatics, crooked politicians, hillbillies who speak the language as if they had marmalade in their mouth, and what’s more, car salesmen, ah yeah the car salesmen, thousands, millions of car salesmen who sweet talk you while trying to put one over on you, they all look the same, they all dress the same, they’re like clones of each other, have you ever tried to buy a car in America, it’s a total rip off, pure unadulterated swindling, those miserable car salesmen what a bunch of crooks, and that’s not all, that’s not all...


Wait, you don’t think that’s all I have to say about America, about this Amer Eldorado...America the land of misrepresentation...


They always tell you in America that the products you buy have been improved, on every box, every bottle, you buy for cooking, cleaning, make yourself look better, smell better, feel better, crap better, on all the boxes, bottles and packages it says in large letters, IMPROVED, do you realize what that means, it means that the products you bought before must have all been shit since they had to be improved, does that make sense to you, do you get the logic of American business, that means that the soap, the toilet paper, the toothpaste, the shaving cream, everything you bought before this so-called improvement were inferior products since they needed improvement, as it is said on the boxes and the bottles and those fucking plastic bags you have to fight with to open them, on all of these it says, in large letters, IMPROVED, it’s unbelievable, that means that a bunch of fucking bastards, those who fabricate these products try to have the rest of the population believe this kind of bullshit, and it’s the same thing for what they call the FAMILY SIZE...


The family size...oh you don’t know what it is, you don’t have la taille famille ici en France, you guys are really retarded...well the family size, it’s a box or a tube or a container which is bigger than the normal size and in which, supposedly, there is more stuff, more merchandise, but of course that’s not true, it’s another one of those stick-it-up-your-ass misrepresentations from the big businesses, for instance, you buy a tube of toothpaste, regular size, let’s say you pay a buck 79, and out of curiosity, to inform yourself, or just for the fun of it, to pass the time, you decide to count the number of squeezes in the tube you bought, the regular size tube, a squeeze is the amount of toothpaste you normally put on your toothbrush when you brush your teeth, that’s obvious, doesn’t matter if you brush in the morning, in the evening, or after each meal, basically a squeeze is a squeeze, for the sake of our discussion, let’s say that all squeezes are more or less equal, I’m inventing a bit here for the commodity of the story, let’s say then that you count 60 squeezes from your regular size tube, 60 seems like a good round number for an ordinary tube, this way if you brush your teeth regularly, morning and evening, as your dentist recommends, then your regular tube will last you exactly one month, but you, you’re not very rich, you want to economize, so the next time you buy toothpaste you get the family size, which costs $2.29, therefore, 50 cents more, in America, by the way, all the prices always end with a 9, that’s another one of their tricks, to make you believe that’s it’s cheaper, that you pay less than if it were a dollar 80 or 2 dollars 30, I call that the penny deception, what can you do with that penny, that lousy little penny they give you back, that useless penny that you stick in a box or in a drawer somewhere and is lost forever...


Bon je continue, so you just bought yourself a family size tube of toothpaste, personally I prefer Colgate, excited because you think you saved, you go home and start counting the number of squeezes in this family size tube, on which it says, in large letters, not only IMPROVED but TWICE AS MUCH TOOTHPASTE AS IN REGULAR SIZE TUBES, however, to your surprise, your disarray, when you have finished counting, at most there is perhaps half a dozen more squeezes in this larger family size, therefore, once more, you’ve been had, the tube seemed bigger, larger, it even felt bigger in your hand when you squeezed it, felt like...like a cock in erection, but in fact it was an illusion, the motherfuckers they put air into the tube, yes lots of empty air instead of toothpaste, and that’s true of all brands, always the same whether it’s Colgate, Polident, Pepsodent, Close-up, Aquafresh, Crest, Smeardent, Merdedent, whatever the name, always more air than merchandise...


So now you see how capitalism uses merchandise to deceive you, to make you suffer, to torture you, to...to...well you know what I mean...


What...oh you want another coffee, okay, me too...garçon...allo garçon, encore deux cafés s’il-vous-plaît...Hey, can I bum a cigarette...


That’s okay, I like Gauloises...you got a match...


Okay, I was telling you how in America they always get you with their improved products and their family size, I told you, it’s the land of misrepresentation, and also the land of repetition and duplication...


They say America is a melting-pot where anyone can become whatever he wants to be, bullshit, me, I’ll tell you what it is, not a melting-pot, but a stewing pot, a huge marmite in which the exploited, the oppressed, the dispossessed, the displaced, are slowly being cooked for the benefit of those who exploit, oppress, dispossess, displace them, the second third and fourth class citizens, the Afros, the Chicanos, the Red Skins, the Good-for-Nothings, the Underprivileged, The Rabble, oh you want more, I got more, here, I’ll give you a whole list, in neat columns, of what the Americans call each other in the stewing pot...



The Stewing Pot...


Spades
Spooks
Spics
Schwartzes
Coons
Chinks
Colored
Niggers
Commies
Commi Crappola
Chosen People
Jigs
Jungle Bunnies
Pinkos
Pansies
Red Skins
Gooks
Hebes
Kikes
Yids
Youpins
Black Beauties
Bleeding Hearts
Freaks
Yentas
Atheists
Weirdos
Dumb Polacks
Dingbats
Dumb Bells
Meatheads
Micks
Fairies
Fruits
Queens
Fags
Lesbos
Goyem
Four-eyes
Degos
Sheenies
Micks
Yankees
Pussy Eaters
Frogs
Frenchies
Krauts
Bums


And there is more, much more, the Americans, what an amazing collection of ethnic eponyms, you should hear that extraordinary language, that’s the beauty of the English language, its richness, its inventiveness, that much must be said for it, maybe when they tell you in America anybody can become a millionaire, maybe they mean a millionaire of words...


Words, that’s about all I got from America, a million useless words, which I can barely pronounce...


You want to know where I learned all these words...


Watching TV, working in factories, in the army, in the streets of New York City, in the black ghettos, that’s where you learn how the Americans refer to each other, especially the upperclass when they refer to the slobs, the depressed, the oppressed, the exploited, the minorities, the canaille, the rabble, the poor, the underprivileged...


Of course, there are rich guys over there, what do you think, in America you find gold in the streets, that’s what I was told before I went there, you should see the privileged bastards afflicted with money and me-meism, guys loaded with dough who drive huge fancy deluxe cars with fur seats and wheels made of gold, no I’m not kidding, Cadillacs, Lincolns, Chryslers, Mercedes, BMWs, Rolls Royces, Infinitis, Acuras, oh and I almost forgot the Porsches and the Lexuses, the people who drive these cars are called celebrities, haha, celebrities without talent of course, wallowing in money, perversion, deprivation, exploitation, envy, you know what I mean, that’s what they’re called these sans-talent who spend their time on the talk-shows, and let’s not forget the multi-multi-millionaire athletes who brag of fucking four or five women a day, every day before going to play their games of football, basketball, baseball, yeah, talk to me about baseball, one should rather say baiseballe...


You may not know this, but there is a basketball player who recently bragged that he fucked twenty thousand women in his life, I am not exaggerating, and the guy is not even dead yet, he’s only thirty-four or thirty-five years old, do you realize what that means, twenty thousand broads, you, if you counted how many you fucked in your life you would arrive at what, half a dozen, a dozen, maybe two dozen, if you exaggerated a bit, if you said fifty, nobody would believe you, but twenty thousand, that my friend is beyond human comprehension, it’s bestial, you have to be an animal to fuck like that, you have to be really obsessed by sex, I know only one other guy who could screw like that, who bragged to have fucked that many women, Georges Simenon, yes, Simenon, I’ve been told, was one the great fuckers of our century, and he was not even an American writer...


In America, money and sperm, that’s what flows everywhere, from coast to coast, and all these rich cats, ces richards qui mijotent les affaires, they get fat, puffy, potbellied, senile, they fart and burp in public, they fornicate in groups, they even masturbate in public...


No, it’s true, in public, I’ve seen some of these millionaires beating their meat in public, in Las Vegas you see them all the time, once I saw a guy, he was shooting crap, he was losing, and I mean losing big, suddenly, right there in front of the crap table surrounded by a mob of losers, he opened his fly, right there, in front of everybody, took out his cock, grabbed it with both hands, rubbed it, squeezed it, worked it over, and before you know it the guy came in his hands, he rubbed the sperm in the palm of his hands, he put a thousand bucks on the line, and another thousand on crap-eleven, grabbed the dice, and you won’t believe this, the masturbator rolled seventeen passes in the row, yes, that’s right, seventeen, I was there, I saw, I counted, I don’t remember how much he won, but the rest of us losers, we were completely dumbfounded, baba, especially me since all I could afford to play that day was one buck on the line, the minimum at that table...


What...me, masturbate in public, who do you take me for, I’ve got too much self-respect, doesn’t mean I don’t like it, but in public, how can you enjoy yourself, isn’t masturbation a form of self-enjoyment, I mean something you do alone, in private, in front of the mirror, for your own pleasure, without sharing the pleasure with anyone else...


Well, you wanted me to tell you about America, now you know, I should have been warned before going there, to seek fame and fortune, that the American dream was phoney, a joke, for the birds...makes you feel like pissing on Independence Day...


America, for the birds, pour les oiseaux, I’ll tell you what America is, it’s like a Hollywood movie, an illusion, a block-buster delusion, and like all the Hollywood movies, it self-destructs with its own mediocrity and banality...


You know something, America was invented by Walt Disney, it’s a giant cartoon for adults with the mentality of a four year old...


Just read Baudrillard, you’ll see what I mean, yes Baudrillard explains it all, the French love to explain everything, especially America to the Americans, as if they had invented it, the French always claim they’ve invented everything, electricity, atomic power, jet propulsion, telephones, vaccines, steam propulsion, capotes Anglaises, French fries, French toasts, the French they brainwash each other into believing that they have invented everything...


When I was a kid in grammar school, the teachers always told us, nous les Français nous avons tout inventé, everything, even toilet paper, and the teachers started with the Eiffel Tower, explaining that only a Frenchman could have invented something that great, that big, that tall, personally I think the Eiffel Tower is a monstrosity, a huge phallic symbol that makes Paris look like it has a permanent erection...


No, listen, on second thought, don’t waste your time with Baudrillard, that pseudo-prophet didn’t understand a damn thing about America, and you know why, because he hasn’t lived there, I mean live there in the guts of America, he just looked at it, from above, from a distance through his lunettes cacadémiques...


To understand America you have to have lived deep in it, as I did, ten fucking years, me I saw the real America, in all it’s beauty and in all it’s horror, Baudrillard he didn’t work in a factory in Detroit, like I did, on the line, at Chrysler, Baudrillard he didn’t live in the black ghettos of Detroit and New York, like I did, when I wanted to be a jazz musician...


Oh you didn’t know I played jazz, yes the tenor sax, I’ll have to tell you about that too...


No Baudrillard he didn’t spend three fucking years in the fucking army with the racist hillbillies of North Carolina, no Baudrillard never worked, like I did, as a dishwasher in the grease joints of New York City...


So now you understand why I couldn’t take it anymore, so here I am in Paris, six weeks already, in a shitty filthy flea-bag of a hotel in Montparnasse, Rue Delambre to be exact...


Yes, Rue Delambre where the prostitutes do their business...hey, how come you know that, don’t tell me you too frequent that street...


Not far from here, in fact very close to where Jean-Paul Sartre lives, and the other night I saw him Sartre à la Coupole, he was there with Simone, you know, Simone la Beauvoir, and Boris Vian was there too, wow did they look drunk the three of them...


I am serious, I saw them, you cannot imagine comme il est moche Sartre, and Simone, not very sexy, Boris Vian, sort of good-looking, but Sartre, he may be a smart guy, but ugly, ugly like hell, and cross-eyed, qu’est-ce qu’il louche ce poisson rouge strabique, as Céline once described le seigneur tartre...


Merde, you see how I digress all the time, here I’m again in a detour, this time a detour out of time, a literary detour in the middle of the story of my life, okay I’ll leapfrog Sartre and his buddies, and hoplà me revoilà dans mon histoire...


So here I am in Paris, six weeks already, and yesterday I get a telegram from Susan, from America...


Susan she always communicates by telegrams, and me telegrams scare the hell out of me because it never fails, a telegram always brings bad news, always tells you that somebody died, or somebody failed and was rejected, or you failed and were rejected, or else that you owe somebody money, telegrams never tell you that something good happened, like winning a million dollars at the lottery, no, telegrams are made to circulate sadness...


In any case, the telegram from Susan announces that she is arriving in three days with TWA, that I should meet her at the airport because she’ll have lots of luggage, she says she’s sorry, she’s not mad at me any more, it was a long telegram, must have cost her a fortune, especially from America, she says she still loves me, adores me, please forgive me Darling Moinous...


That’s what she calls me all the time, Moinous, Darling Moinous, it’s not bad as a name, she invented it because, she says, it gives her a sense of togetherness with me, you know, me us, what can I do...


Susan knows a bit of French, she speaks it with a delicious accent, an American accent of course, she makes adorable mistakes, especially with le masculin et le féminin...


So in her telegram she tells me when she is arriving, and implores me to come and meet her, and you’ll see Darling Moinous everything will be fine, just like before, we’ll start brand new, we’ll get a little apartment together, we won’t fight any more, I’ll take care of you, I’ll cook for you, I’ll do your laundry, I can’t wait to see you and hold you in my arms to love you, caress you...


Well well, that’s all I need, no, it’s not tenderness and caresses, or clean underwear, or even gourmet cooking that I need at this point, though a good juicy hamburger with French fries right now would be delicious, yes what I need now is bread, dough, cash, pognon, flouze, dollars...


You see, I have a problem, a serious financial problem on top of all my other problems, let me explain...


Thanks, I’ll take another smoke...two weeks after I arrived in Paris, I met this girl, a British girl, cute like hell, petite, maybe a bit too skinny for my taste, but absolutely gorgeous, très Britishe, she works for a travel agency, anyway, I can’t say it’s love, but man what good old-fashioned British fucking we do together...


What’s wrong...well last week she tells me she missed her period and she panics, she needs five hundred bucks immediately to get rid of the thing, some doctor she found in the Province, where the hell does she think I’m going to find that kind of dough, five hundred bucks, and now here comes Susan with her tenderness and her cooking...


Borrow from Susan...now really, who do you take me for, I told you I have self-respect, and besides Susan, she would kill me if I told her...


But that’s not all, I got other problems besides Susan and my British girl, I’m broke, and I cannot find a fucking job, nothing, absolutely nothing in sight, I’ll take anything, the few bucks I had with me when I came, gone, finished, evaporated, okay mon Anglaise loaned me a few francs the other day, but now she says no more, especially with the thing she claims she’s got to get rid of...the thing...you would think with my knowledge of English, in spite of the accent, I could find a decent job, maybe with an American firm, but no, nothing, I haven’t had a decent meal in more than three days, ah La Belle France, for the birds too...


Oh, Monsieur reacts, Monsieur doesn’t like when I say things like that about La Belle France, you say it’s not that bad here, much better than over there, here le patrimoine et le patriotisme ça compte, you know what, you can take your patrimoine and patriotisme and stick them up your ass, I’ll tell you a few things about this rotten country, I’ll tell you what happened here, back then, during the war, what these salopards de Français did to us, yes to us...


Don’t look at me like that, this bitch, this whore, yes that’s what La Belle France is, a prostitute that couldn’t wait to get fucked in the ass by Hitler while my family was being remade into bars of soap, oh I’ll tell you more about that...


Here, maybe you don’t know this, but at the Olympic Games of 1936 in Berlin when the French athletes paraded before Hitler, they all gave him the Sieg Heil salute, only the Americans and the British didn’t, good for them, I know because I saw a documentary on TV about the ‘36 Olympics, I saw the whole parade, it’s on film, well the French athletes when they marched in front of Hitler and his cohorts standing up there on the platform, not only did they give the Sieg Heil, but they stretched their arms higher and further than all the other athletes to show how they couldn’t wait to get fucked in the ass by Hitler, no I am not inventing this, it’s on film, it’s inscribed in history, impossible to erase that unless one destroys the film, you see why I say la France is also a rotten country, for the birds, but we’ll talk about that too, for now let me tell you about my immediate problems...


My immediate problems...you want a list, money of course, but also Susan who is going to break my balls with her tenderness, my little English cutie from Manchester who tells me I knocked her up, how do I know it’s me, and on top of that my family, or what’s left of them, you’ll see, I’ll tell you the whole thing, but especially I’ll tell you about my aunt Rachel, the only one of all the aunts who was nice and decent with me, ah Tante Rachel, wait till you hear her story, what an incredible story her life...


My aunt Rachel and me we were like...well, you’ll see...but the rest of the family, all a bunch bastards, des radins, des ordures, des pourris, des fauchetons, des salopards...no, I really didn’t want to see them again, but what could I do, finally necessity, hunger pushed me to go see them...


So, last Sunday, exactly five weeks after I got here, totally broke, not a centime in my pocket, nothing to eat for days, and my British girl refusing to loan me any more dough, I said to myself, fuck it, I can’t take it any more, I’m going to go see them, what else could I do, look, a free meal is a free meal, even with uncles aunts and cousins you detest, one cannot be too...


And who knows, I told myself, maybe I can squeeze a few francs out of them, after all it’s them, that bunch of salauds who took everything from me before I left for America, everything we had, after they abandoned us...


Not that I am a beggar, a parasite like le Neveu de Rameau, oh no, me I always managed to get along one way or another since the day I was orphaned, when I was twelve, but still, I decided to go see them, the aunts and uncles, on my mother’s side, hoping that, yes hoping what...


How dumb can a guy be, why go and rummage in the ruins of one’s past, why dive into the filth of what one was before becoming what one wanted to be, even if one never succeeds in becoming what one wants to be, you see what I mean, what I am trying to say...


No, forget it, all this makes me so fucking angry, sick to my stomach, anyway, I was saying, six weeks already in Paris, and yesterday I get this telegram from beautiful Susan...