Tree of Codes

Tree of Codes

by Jonathan Safran Foer

Paperback

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Overview


Tree of Codes is a haunting new story by best-selling American writer, Jonathan Safran Foer. With a different die-cut on every page, Tree of Codes explores previously unchartered literary territory. Initially deemed impossible to make, the book is a first — as much a sculptural object as it is a work of masterful storytelling. Tree of Codes is the story of an enormous last day of life — as one character's life is chased to extinction, Foer multi-layers the story with immense, anxious, at times disorientating imagery, crossing both a sense of time and place, making the story of one person’s last day everyone’s story. Inspired to exhume a new story from an existing text, Jonathan Safran Foer has taken his "favorite" book, The Street of Crocodiles by Polish-Jewish writer Bruno Schulz, and used it as a canvas, cutting into and out of the pages, to arrive at an original new story told in Jonathan Safran Foer's own acclaimed voice.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780956569219
Publisher: Visual Editions
Publication date: 11/15/2010
Pages: 285
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author


Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the novels Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and a work of nonfiction, Eating Animals. His books have won numerous awards and have been translated into 36 languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Hometown:

New York, New York

Date of Birth:

February 21, 1977

Place of Birth:

Washington, D.C.

Education:

B.A. in Philosophy, Princeton University, 1999

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

[A]n extraordinary journey that activates the layers of time and space involved in the handling of a book and its heap of words. Jonathan Safran Foer deftly deploys sculptural means to craft a truly compelling story. In our world of screens, he welds narrative, materiality, and our reading experience into a book that remembers it actually has a body." — Olafur Eliasson, artist

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Tree of Codes 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
bibliovermis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When you get past the gimmicky cut-out pages, this book is basically a book of poetry. I find the concept of producing a work from the words in another work interesting, and I'm certain the poetry produced is fine. However, the execution of the book, with its die cut pages, makes the actual process of reading the book nigh impossible. Each page had to be lifted away from those behind it and inspected for content.Many people found this process to be a fascinating part of the book experience. I just found it really, really annoying. For me, it made it even harder to keep track of what was going on.
JimElkins on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a tricky book to review. Each page is perforated, die-cut, so you see through parts of it, and read phrases, words, parts of words, and punctuation marks deep into the book. So there's the physical book itself, the thing, which needs to be understood. Then -- a separate issue, and the separation is the problem -- there's the story that can be read on each page, in sequence, as a book is usually read.As an object, the book is very attractive. If you flip through the pages you see the empty spaces that tunnel down through the book. The edges of the empty pages are filled with words, which sit on little shelves of paper leaning out into the space. You see that each page is constructed as a rectangular frame of paper, made sturdy by five or six horizontal strips. The words and punctuation marks are appended to that framework, like the tabs in an extruded-plastic toy. If you open the book wide, and try to read everything you see, you get an attractive chaos: "With secret spring, oneyco [that's part of the word "honeycombed," showing through from a later page] without transition, myself in an evenwider, more sumptuous interiormy father kept. and his desk a"and so forth. (p. 82)More could be said about the book as an object. It's intriguing and attractive except for the cover, which is unaccountably a freehand rendering of dots. There would seem to be little reason for freehand painting in a project that is all about geometry, precision, and rectilinear cutting; and dots don't make sense at all, either in relation to the book as an object, or to its title, or to its contents.Next is the experience of reading. To actually read the book, you have to hold each individual page up by itself, and fold the other pages back as far as possible. (If you don't hold up one page at a time, then your reading of the sentences on any given page will be hopelessly confused by the appearance of words from other pages.) Because the perfect binding is strong, it is impossible to hold each page straight in front of you, so you end up reading at an angle. It would also be possible to read by slipping a blank sheet of paper behind each page. Either way, reading is artificial, and that artificiality does not seem to be linked to the themes of the book or the physical appearance of the book. Foer and his designers do not seem to have planned reading at the same time they planned the construction of the book itself: an example of the separation of parts that makes this book problematic.And then there's the question of content, and that is where "Tree of Codes" becomes especially interesting. The book is presented as a die-cut, redacted version of Bruno Schulz's "Street of Crocodiles." But it's not even necessary to consult Schulz's book to see that's not so, because the words that appear in Foer's book have such capacious white margins around them that they could not have been cut from any actual printed edition of Schulz's book. That is most apparent when it comes to periods and other punctuation, which Foer sometimes leaves isolated on the page, without words around them. They have white space on both sides, in a way that periods don't. Consulting copies of the English translation of the book, I conclude that Foer printed out and formatted his own version of the book -- either that, or once he chose the words he wanted to retain, he reformatted the book so they were spaced in ways he liked. For example p. 67 begins:"My father kept in his desk abeautiful map of our city"There are two missing lines of text, in Foer's book, between those two redacted lines of text. But the original (in English) is:"My father kept in the lower drawer of his desk and old and beautiful map..." (That is the Penguin Classics edition, for which Foer wrote an Introduction.) So the two cut-out lines in Foer's book are invented. That matters, because it means this is not a redacted version of a book (a physical object) but of a text (Schulz's tex
wwtct on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a serious piece of art. I guess it could be gimmicky to some, but I think it's beautiful. The story itself took me like 45 minutes to read, which was mostly being scared to turn pages too fast, but I did find it compelling. I haven't read The Street of Crocodiles yet, but I definitely want to.
jasonlf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This may be at the pinnacle of its genre and an impressive work of art that repays reading and rereading. But despite being a unique and memorable experience, it wasn't for me.Tree of Codes is essentially a short story formed by Jonathan Safran Foer taking Bruno Schulz's The Street of Crocodiles and cutting out most of the words on every line. What is left is a story with a completely different title (___ _tree of C_o_d__es) and a completely different story. I only dimly comprehended the story, which seemed to be about a city, a father, and various other things -- although I'm sure that the dim comprehension was some sort of failure on my part. If it were printed like a normal story I would not have finished it, but the experience of turning the puzzle-like pages, each one cut in a different manner leaving holes and spaces and truncated words, was fascinating and worth doing once a lifetime.The other big plus of this book is that it motivated me to read The Street of Crocodiles.
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Felonious More than 1 year ago
This is another book I stole from Deb's to read pile. She got the book based solely on the author (she has read and liked his other books). Opening the book we were shocked, it looks as though someone has taken a knife and cut out sentences and paragraphs, leaving just a handful of words behind on each page (that is basically what the author did). It took me a few pages to figure out how to read it (a lot of words show through those holes). Once I figured it out it ended up being a very short and interesting read. After I finished reading the Tree of Codes I read in the back that Jonathan took the book The Street of Crocodiles by Polish-Jewish writer Bruno Schulz and “chipped” (cut) away words to leave behind his unique story; like a sculptor that chips away the stone to reveal a sculpture. Rating this book is a bit tricky. Reading a story from a book that only has a handful of words scattered amongst the holes one the pages is a unique experience. Learning how it was done makes you appreciate the work, skill and imagination it took to create such a book. As for the story, it was beautiful and poetic. I imagined the book as just a book. A story on whole pages (no holes), taking about 30 pages. Beautiful and poetic. Then I looked at it as a work of art and I go back and forth on that, on one hand I like the idea and I appreciate the experience but on the other hand it had a slight gimmicky feel to it. I combined the story with the experience and that slight gimmicky feeling to come up with my rating. Feb 21, 2012 [edit]