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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing in every respect
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...
Published on November 29, 2010 by K. C. Andrews

versus
27 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars don't be fooled
Don't overpay. This book at it's MSRP is $40, and worth slightly less and certainly not in the $100-$300 range. I found it at my local bookstore for the normal retail price. Its contents are a one sided printing of The Street of Crocodiles (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) cut out to form an 'interesting' interpretation/new narrative.

The only way this book...
Published on February 16, 2011 by Ian David Mcgowan


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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing in every respect, November 29, 2010
This review is from: Tree of Codes (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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52 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unmistakeable and imaginative, December 1, 2010
By 
J. B. Erickson (Seattle, Washington) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tree of Codes (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.
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40 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite possibly Safran Foer's finest yet, November 24, 2010
This review is from: Tree of Codes (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.
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27 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars don't be fooled, February 16, 2011
This review is from: Tree of Codes (Paperback)
Don't overpay. This book at it's MSRP is $40, and worth slightly less and certainly not in the $100-$300 range. I found it at my local bookstore for the normal retail price. Its contents are a one sided printing of The Street of Crocodiles (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) cut out to form an 'interesting' interpretation/new narrative.

The only way this book could be printed is in paperback, there is no hardcover.
When looking at a single page the cutout method allows the reader to see several pages down, presumably allowing one to see multiple versions of sentence structures. The printing process is not as revolutionary as the publisher would like you to believe; the pages rarely align well enough to allow for line to line reading of multiple pages, words are often obscured by pages on top. Making it nearly unreadable.

As to what can be deciphered; imagine someone took a knife to one of your favorite novellas (the source material tops out at about 150pgs).
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars More Than a Little Frustrated...and Utterly Bamboozled, February 7, 2012
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This review is from: Tree of Codes (Paperback)
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!) with large chucks of the page on which they have been printed literally cut out of the paper which means there is a gap or two (or six) not to mention difficult to handle.. My first attempt took me some twenty pages into the book before I sat back with the realization that I had absolutely no idea of the content of what I had just read. Add to that the fact I could not identify the characters involved although a second reading indicated there were two: the narrator and his/her mother, let alone the physical setting of the action...or better said, lack of. I put it aside with my previous warning that this was not going to be my ordinary reading experience. I read it a second time with much the same result. I began to worry that perhaps I was not capable of handling this book at all. I plowed on, hoping that a few pages more might open up the mysteries of this adventure. No such luck. I have read 87 pages to this point and I find myself in exactly the same spot. This is not fun. Have I gone stupid all of a sudden? A definite possibility or perhaps an admission that I had bitten off a lot more than I could chew.
Right now, I do not know what else to add. I have to decide if I should try again or simply accept the fact this one is beyond me. This is extremely uncomfortable since some reviewers claim the book is a masterpiece while it strikes me as an elaborate prank with me as the doofus mark being played like a banjo.
Ten months have passed between the above and what I am writing now. I just finished reading the remaining 47 pages with not an inkling more insight into the content of the story. I have come to the conclusion "Tree of Codes" has to be JSF's response to an imaginary challenge thrown out by NYT crossword master Will Shortz to create a puzzle to which the solution will result in utter confusion. He deserves the Grand Prize.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where the physical book is more interesting than the writing, April 30, 2013
By 
demerson19 (Michigan, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tree of Codes (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? Because the narrative is not nearly as strong as the idea behind it.

It can be better viewed as a work of poetry, but with lines like "Weeks passed like boats waiting to sail into the starless dawn, we were full of aimless endless darkness," it even fails in that category.

This is a book worth looking at, and because it is short, go ahead and read it. But it has been noticed not for what it contains, but how it was created. When the act of creation exceeds the creation, then it says little for the creation itself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars creative but pointless, October 20, 2012
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This review is from: Tree of Codes (Paperback)
I love Jonathan Safran Foer. I think he is incredibly talented and one of the best contemporary writers. This book, or a puzzle, uhmm... a project, in short, did not move me at all. I will be patiently waiting for him to write another novel of the same caliber as Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, Artistic, Abstract And Non-Traditional Vision, February 14, 2011
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This review is from: Tree of Codes (Paperback)
After ordering the book, I patiently awaited the experience that had attracted me in the first place, hearing about the book's uniqueness. My tastes lean toward the odd, the different or things that avoid the norm, so this seemed to be my cup of tea.

Once the book arrived, I immediately understood why the author stated that this book could not be made into a hardcover. The bound weight of hardcover binding would crush the delicate interior.

At first, upon opening it, I was shocked by all the un-gathered words that appeared in front of me. After some time,I realized that, I was conditioned to see the interior of a book written in a traditional format. I apparently was stuck in a rigid perspective without consciously knowing it. The perspective of the book did not need to change. I needed to change my perspective.

Communication is a funny thing. Some people and some writers (via writing),do a massive amount of talking. Talking only takes up 20 percent of human communications, with the body doing the other 80 percent.
This book is certainly more than it speaks. It is a way to realize that there are stories within stories,that things are deeper than we can see, with our very limited human perspective. But we can visualize it, if we read between the lines.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, September 5, 2011
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This review is from: Tree of Codes (Paperback)
This book is really poetry. I've only read it once so far, but I will be re-reading it soon. The whole thing is just magical. To call it a novel or a story isn't really that close to the mark. I think, and I'm paraphrasing Foer a little bit, but this is basically the ghost of a story. It existed inside of Street of Crocodiles, and the words are not Foer's, but the story and the joining and connection of Schulz's blips and phrases does belong to Foer. It's an amazing achievement, and art in its own right. I couldn't recommend this highly enough. The whole can't really be summarized in so short of a review, so I'll finish with one quote, "We shall have this as our aim: a gesture."
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gimmicky but Good, July 18, 2012
By 
R. Shaffer (Minneapolis, MN USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tree of Codes (Paperback)
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.
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Tree of Codes
Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer (Paperback - November 8, 2010)
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