Ray Federman

By Hpschaefer (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Raymond Federman was a French–American novelist and academic, known also for poetry, essays, translations, and criticism. He held positions at the University at Buffalo from 1973 to 1999, when he was appointed Distinguished Emeritus Professor. His work sought to straddle the boundary between fiction and reality — and in so doing to emphasize the inadequacy of language to capture either one completely.

This type of writing is quite prevalent in his book Double or Nothing, in which the linear narrative of the story has been broken down and restructured so as to be nearly incoherent. Words are also often arranged on pages to resemble images or to suggest repetitious themes.

Some critics found Mr. Federman’s work rough sledding. But the point of Mr. Federman’s difficult, sometimes profuse style seemed to be this: However many words a writer might bring to bear on his subject, there are some subjects that language is ultimately powerless to describe.