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

To Whom It May Concern:

To Whom It May Concern

To Whom It May Concern
by Raymond Federman

Hardcover
1990
Price: $14.95 s

Paperback
1990
Price: $8.95

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This book consists of a set of letters from an unidentified writer to an unidentified recipient. In the letters, a writer sets forth his plans for a book about two children who were separated from their families during a war. He plans to invent a narration that will fully reveal their experiences during that war, experiences that are at the base of their reality, and the memory of which will also retrieve them from their present, supernumerary lives.


The two children, it develops, escaped the roundups of Jews in a city much like Paris during World War II. The book contains the story of their ambiguous survival, which may or may not be that of the author. Now, fifty years later, the two have re-established contact and plan a reunion in Israel.


In the last scene of the book two figures, their features obscured by the long shadows of evening, lean toward one another as they speak from the confidence of their hearts. Also there, listening, is the writer of the letters that form the book. The novel ends mysteriously, and so continues to vibrate in our imagination. To Whom it May Concern will join that short list of books we treasure most deeply, those few statements that remind us of who we are, and of what we are capable.

"What Federman is trying to do, and does, in To Whom It May Concern: is not to present an autobiography, nor a meta-novel, nor a story about writing a story, but to form, from the bare essentials of words, feelings, and images, a story as intriguing as it is inspiring." —Illinois Writers Review


"To Federman's credit, his continuing narrative refiguration of the tragic ironies of his own personal history has served him well in his career. Like his friend and one-time mentor, the late Samuel Beckett, Federman has figured out a way to turn redudancy into a virtue." —The Buffalo News


"Federman avoids the specificity of time and place to cleverly manipulate narrative convention and expose the illusion of fiction. A worthy addition to the writings of the Holocaust, to be read not so much for plot as for its experimental style." —Booklist


 

Excerpt


Listen ... suppose the story were to begin with Sarah's cousin delayed for a few hours in the middle of his journey ... stranded in the city werhe he and Sarah were born ... stranded at the airport ... many years after the great war which so deeply marked the cousins when they were children ... yes suppose ... it would give him time to think ... to prepare himself for the reunion in the land of promises after years of separation ... it's been thirty-five years since the two cousins last saw each other ... yes suppose ... then after the struggle with words has ended I will step back and watch the lies fall into place to shape a truth ignobly wrestled onto the surface of the paper.

That's how I see this story ... its design ... its geography. On one side, a land of misrepresentation where Sarah's cousin has been living for the past thirty-five years. On the other, far away, across the ocean, a land of false promises, a piece of desert full of mirages, where Sarah has been living her own exile for as many years. And bracketed in between, the country where the two cousins were born, and where an unforgivable enormity was committed during the war. That place will remain parenthetical. It will linger in the depth of the cousins' background. After the war they went away. He to the West and Sarah to the East.

Should this cousin be given a name? A name is so cumbersome. so limiting. It confines a being to the accident of birth, imposes a civic identity. Perhaps, for now, he can simply be referred to as Sarah's cousin. Yes, SARAH'S COUSIN. Though her name too might be deleted later on.