In The Cut
November 7, 2010 4:08 PM   Subscribe

The book is as much a sculptural object as it is a work of masterful storytelling: here is an “enormous last day of life” that looks like it feels.

Our early conversations with Jonathan Safran Foer about Tree of Codes started when Jonathan said he was curious to explore and experiment with the die-cut technique. With that as our mutual starting point, we spent many months of emails and phone calls, exploring the idea of the pages’ physical relationship to one another and how this could somehow be developed to work with a meaningful narrative. This led to Jonathan deciding to use an existing piece of text and cut a new story out of it. Having considered working with various texts, Jonathan decided to cut into and out of what he calls his “favourite book”: The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz.

Related: Tom Phillips' A Humument
posted by chavenet (13 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
That's just such a cool idea for a book. I've often wondered if it would be possible to somehow create a narrative which works through this kind of mechanism. Cutting out portions of text so the lower pages could be read, then encountering those same words again, in the same position on the page, only with different meaning in their new context.

It's beautiful. Now I just have to figure out how to scrape together the money to get a copy.

Also, the book in the related link. Has anyone actually seen a copy? Does it read like a book, or is it just an art piece?
posted by hippybear at 4:16 PM on November 7, 2010

I'd seen A Humument, though it was quite a while ago and best I remember, it was more art piece than book.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:23 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

hippybear, the next time you're in Boston, you can come by my library and check out our copy in person if you want. My understanding is that it's theoretically readable as a text, but it's more commonly treated as an art piece.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:26 PM on November 7, 2010

I can't wait to get this on the iPad!
posted by cjorgensen at 4:30 PM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Joshua Beckman and I created a site called Erasures several years ago, which lets you create poems out of found texts. I've been working on a non-Flash/iPad-friendly version which will hopefully show up in MeFi Projects one of these months...
posted by gwint at 4:34 PM on November 7, 2010 [8 favorites]

Oh dear me; Christmas shopping time.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:43 PM on November 7, 2010

A Humument has been published in trade paperback form.
posted by oulipian at 4:44 PM on November 7, 2010

Boy, how I wish this came from someone OTHER than John Saffron "Meat Eat Rape" Fore
posted by ReeMonster at 5:07 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

wow. i bet the actual story's shit though.
posted by electricsandwich138 at 6:33 AM on November 8, 2010

I would order it from Amazon, but it really fucks up your kindle.
posted by ericbop at 7:40 AM on November 8, 2010

^i bet the actual story's shit though.

True, but it probably won't matter, once better artists start executing better derivative works where the text isn't derivative, but original and focused.

That's when, as an originary document, Foer's book becomes a collector's item.
posted by vhsiv at 7:53 AM on November 8, 2010

i bet the actual story's shit though.

It appears that they used the text of 'The Street of Crocodiles', a 1934 collection of short stories by Polish author Bruno Schulz. This isn't the first time that work has been adapted into avant-art - in 1986 the Quay Brothers produced a fantastic surrealistic stop-motion short film using the work as an inspiration (part 1, part 2)
posted by FatherDagon at 8:56 AM on November 8, 2010

A Humument? There's an app for that.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:11 PM on November 17, 2010

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