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Tree of Codes Paperback – November 8, 2010

3.6 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews
Book 2 of 4 in the Visual Editions Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"[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

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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 285 pages
  • Publisher: Visual Editions; First Edition edition (November 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956569218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956569219
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #589,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the bestseller Everything Is Illuminated, named Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and the winner of numerous awards, including the Guardian First Book Prize, the National Jewish Book Award, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Prize. Foer was one of Rolling Stone's "People of the Year" and Esquire's "Best and Brightest." Foreign rights to his new novel have already been sold in ten countries. The film of Everything Is Illuminated, directed by Liev Schreiber and starring Elijah Wood, will be released in August 2005. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has been optioned for film by Scott Rudin Productions in conjunction with Warner Brothers and Paramount Pictures. Foer lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Everybody I show this book to thinks it's crazy. It is first of all a completely beautiful object - I've never seen anything like it. Second, it's a beautifully written story that gave me the goose bumps. (Useful tip for other readers: I lay a sheet under the pages, when I was reading). Very much a return to the emotionally charged and experimental storytelling of Safran Foer's debut, Everything Is Illuminated.
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Format: Paperback
This book is just captivating. I can't even begin to describe the pleasure of unknowing and unexpected that I experienced when I opened it for the first time. I had to have it. The 40.00 price tag, while initially seemed steep, is totally justifiable when you actually put your fingers on the cover and open the paged and touch it. You've never felt or seen or experienced a book like this. I don't want to give too much away, but this book will change you and the way you look at printed material. You'll never get this kind of connection on a Kindle or iPad or Nook or any other device. This book just goes to show you why the physical page will never cease to exist. Thank you Mr. Foer.
4 Comments 55 of 63 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I've loved everything Jonathan Safran Foer has written to date, but this just might be his most amazing work yet. What he has done by cutting his own haunting story out of Bruno Schulz' equally haunting Street of Crocodiles, is both astonishing and incredibly poignant. The book, with its ghostly die cuts and dangling phantom punctuation, is a different kind of reading experience, for sure, but as with his other books, I devoured it in one breathless sitting.
5 Comments 42 of 49 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Jonathan Safran Foer's novel, Tree of Codes, is an unusual work. As opposed to creating a novel from scratch, Foer takes his "favorite book," The Street of Crocodiles by the Polish-Jewish writer, Bruno Schulz, and cuts away that text to create a new novel.

It is a unique idea and raises the philosophical questions of what makes a novel, what is authorship, and even what is morally acceptable in taking work from others. Foer gives no authorial credit to Schulz, presumably because he sees this as his own work. This may actually be deconstructionism taken to its logical extreme.

In order to do this, Foer has worked with a publisher (Visual Editions) to present the novel with the full pages, but every page is die-cut to show only the words he has chosen. The result is a book with tree of codes insidemany pages, but few words. As a work of art, it is interesting to see. As a literary work of art, it is an interesting experiment.

But does it work? As a novel, no. The text he has kept is clearly constrained by what is already in the Schulz's novel, so he is trapped within that structure. He can re-imagine the words in different ways and with different uses, but he cannot escape the structure. As such, he must create a story which can be found within a limited text (if we think of all texts as limited by their scope). He does not succeed in creating a full story.

I struggled with a way to summarize the book (best shot: son sees father's demise at the hands of his mother), so I went in search of what others say. This was not a scientific survey, but a look at what a good Google search would bring up. Not surprisingly, almost everyone focuses on the physical safran-inside-tablebook or the idea behind the physical book, but not the narrative itself. Why?
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Comment 6 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved JSF's "Everything is Clear..." as well as "Extremely Close..." and even "Eating Animals". I believe the man has talent overflowing the boundaries of normal humans . That said, I was quite excited to learn about "Tree of Codes" since the creative mind that put together these other books was a safe bet to continue his brilliance even further and I was looking forward to it with intense anticipation. Upon learning of JSF''s testimonial for "Street of Crocodiles," I bought it and read it since it was his admiration of the brilliance of that book that had inspired him to do "Code of Trees." It disappointed me for the simple fact I could not make any sense of it whatsoever. I wrote it off as perhaps a mediocre translation for the original Polish.

I ordered "T of C" from amazon even though it was a tad on the expensive side for a paperback...waited something like four months for delivery...even posted an inquiry to amazon since I was convinced they had misplaced the order...assured things were progressing as planned...it finally arrived and I dove into it with gusto.
I had read the postings of a number of his fans on the amazon site so I was fore-warned this book was more than a little out of the ordinary and might be challenging, to say the least. My reaction was, so much the better...it's JSF doing his thing and I will surely appreciate his efforts.
I began with the sheet or paper inserted behind the page being read (Suggested by previous reader) and took off running. For the uninformed, this is probably a required exercise for those of us who are unaccostumed to reading a page with perhaps 15 to 20 words on it (BTW, that would be a long page!
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1 Comment 20 of 26 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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