Jonathan Safran Foer released a novel today, Tree of Codes, built entirely of excised words from a book he’s described as one of his favorites. The book hasn’t received an overabundance of publicity, especially compared with his last book Eating Animals, but it’s clear that the experiment is meant to shock.
The book he chopped up is The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz, which tells the story of his boyhood in Poland. Mr. Foer’s new book concerns “an enormous last day of life” for one of the characters, according to its Amazon page, which is scant on other plot details. It features large passages that have been literally removed from the page, and the end result looks like some kind of Swiss cheese.
Mr. Foer told Vanity Fair that he’s aiming for a certain kind of reaction:
People’s face when they see the physicality is pleasing and unexpected. They smile. It has a quality of extreme satisfaction. It’s not the way a book is supposed to be. Yet it is as it should be.
The book’s trailer agrees!
HTMLGIANT points out that, despite everyone’s surprise, the techneque isn’t completely new and compares the book, unfavorably, to Tom Phillips’ A Humument. Mr. Foer’s latest book was released by Visual Editions, a U.K. publisher that has a kooky version of Tristram Shandy in its catalogue.