Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Tree of Codes”

Jonathan Safran Foer’s new book is called Tree of Codes and it takes a monumental act of artistic hubris to publish a book (maybe I’m surprised such a literary heavyweight would release such an experimental piece of work?) wherein he took his favorite novel, The Street of Crocodiles by Polish author Bruno Schulz (the Brothers Quay stop-motion adaptation is pretty monumental), and removed words from various pages to form a new story.

In this Vanity Fair piece (which calls the novel, from London’s Visual Editions Publishing, “a quietly stunning work of art.”), Safran Foer says, “I’m interested in works of art that transport a reader. That send you to a different place—pure magic. We’ve gotten used to the notion that art, if it entertains or says something interesting about our time, that’s enough. But there’s something else it can do that nothing else can do. To be genuinely transported, to have your nerves touched, make your hair stand on end, that’s what I think art can do well—or only art can do.”

I’ll say this much, at least Safran Foer gives you a reason to care — whether in admiration or annoyance.  As for the book itself, the physicality of the die cut is mesmerizingly striking.  Tree of Codes comes out November 15.  [via The Phoenix]

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  • Elmer January 17, 2011, 6:12 pm

    It bothers me that he had to use Street of Crocodiles. I think the Brothers Quay had pretty much conquered THAT mountain. It reminds me of when Tom Cruise remade the fairly good Spanish film "Abre Los Ojos" as "Vanilla Sky", just so he could cast himself as the lead actor.
    As far as concept, it is identical to Humument, by Tom Phillips.
    It is very interesting looking, the perforated pages, but it makes me think of Your House, by Olafur Eliasson, which is a lot more interesting.
    Jonathan Safran Foer always makes me think of someone else. In his writing, that would be J.D. Salinger, at least in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.