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Tree of Codes (Visual Editions #2)

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  2,739 ratings  ·  333 reviews
Tree of Codes is a haunting new story by best-selling American writer, Jonathan Safran Foer. With a different die-cut on every page, Tree of Codes explores previously unchartered literary territory. Initially deemed impossible to make, the book is a first — as much a sculptural object as it is a work of masterful storytelling. Tree of Codes is the story of an enormous last ...more
Paperback, 139 pages
Published November 8th 2010 by Visual Editions
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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MJ Nicholls
Re-read 29 Jan 2012

This book is the Princess Diana of precious literature. A dainty little princess, frangible, kind-hearted, captivating . . . but ultimately hollow and deeply uninteresting. Imagine taking Diana out for dinner. She would present herself at your door in a bone-hugging black dress, holding out a dainty hand as you guide her into the limo. You fear too much pressure on her fingers might splinter the bones below, so you tweezer-grip her pinkie, place a gentle thumbnail on her waist
...more
Mon
Apr 08, 2011 Mon rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: po-mo




"...the crowd laughs at the misery which does not know what it is and why it is. The crowd laughs. Do you understand the sadness of comic genius!"

There's a few material aspects of Foer's latest book that I love:

1. cover by gray318 (who also designed Foer's two previous novels)
2. comment on the back by legendary artist Olafur Eliason
3. Text printed on roughly 100gsm ivory matt tone paper, matt card (200gsm?) cover with gorgeous binding






Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye and and ARM's institute of Abori
...more
Anthony Vacca
Someone dead and marginally famous once said, The surest form of flattery is to take your favorite book by an author and scissor it to shreds, until the resulting carnage forms an elaborate meshing of brittle die cuts that, if carefully fingered through, convey in amputated words, phrases and punctuation, something like a prose poem. And that’s exactly what happened to Bruno Schulz’s collection of short stories, Street of Crocodiles, when pseudo-literary savant Jonathan Safran Foer—famous for hi ...more
Jasmine
I emailed Karen to put a copy of this book aside for me yesterday. For whatever reason that didn’t work out* because the first floor felt the need to steal every copy, so when I went in greg told me that I could get a copy on the first floor. Anyway, I was up on the 4th floor picking up the books I needed to buy, such as Steve Lowe’s book, last year’s best European, and sadly Kirk Jones’ book hadn’t made it in yet. Anyway after I finished advertising for the bizarre authors I went to the first f ...more
Clarry
Update - Re-read this piece after reading the original piece that it's based off of, Bruno Schulz's Street of Crocodiles, and love it all the more. He has created a piece of art separate from the original work, while keeping Schulz's beauty in words and phrases. I would highly recommend giving Street of Crocodiles a read and then re-reading this piece, since it gives you a more complete appreciation of the work. I love how the Mother is a more ephemeral figure in this book, while in Street of Cr ...more
Alexandra
If there were lots of other books made in the same way, I'm not sure that Tree of Codes would have had the same impact - its uniqueness is undoubtedly part of its appeal. I admit I bought it mainly because of its novelty value, and because I'd been given book vouchers. I'm a poor student, and don't usually have a spare 25 to spend on a 134 page paperback! Anyway, I've been showing it to friends whenever they've been in my room, and the general consensus is, "Ooh, this is cool", but today I final ...more
Adriana Jacobs
I've had Tree of Codes on my night stand for about two months. There's a coffee mug stain on the cover--it's very faint but raised--and I no longer recall if it came with the book. It suits it nonetheless. Let me start with my first impressions:

The copyright page explains succinctly the method that Safran Foer used to create Tree of Codes from Bruno Schulz's The Street of Crocodiles (if you haven't read this, do so without further delay). It does not mention--to my disappointment--which transla
...more
Hannah
Where to begin? Well, I've only just finished my first read-through, and I'm sure there will be more (it takes only 30 minutes start to finish), so my thoughts are sort of an "initial reaction." I have loved Jonathan Safran Foer's work, so my expectations for this were very high. The physical book is beautiful. The cut-out pages create a collage of type that simultaneously drew me in and made me feel I wasn't quite smart enough to know how to read it. I figured out that you have to lift each pag ...more
Anna
I mainly give Tree of Codes this middle of the road rating, not as a testament to the book -- which I feel might actually be too personal of a reading experience to really rate and explain why to others -- but because I feel that it requires more time, more rereading, before I can give it a really thoughtful star or two, one way or the other. It took me about as long to figure out how to read the story as it did for me to actually read the story; somewhat of a unique experience, but one that I f ...more
Derek Emerson
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 h
...more
Charlotte
This was a fascinating read. Not only is the work original physically, but what's written inside is just spectacular. Every word was so carefully chosen to create this story. And from every individual sentence such powerful images and ideas came to mind. It was incredible!
This is not only a literary piece, it's also a work of art.
While reading I took notes of the phrases and sentences that spoke to me, or were just beautifully phrased.
This is a definite must-read. You will learn to appreciate li
...more
Hanaa Mansouri
This is a masterpiece in so many ways. To take one's favorite book and make physical art out of it is such a beautiful thing. The language of the original Street of Crocodiles is the most poetic and beautiful thing ever, and this book Tree of Codes is the most beautiful book physically I have ever come across; to make art out of punctuation and random words is just mind-blowing.
Mcecilia
... la verità è che questo libro non lo leggerò mai, almeno finché non me ne regaleranno una seconda copia da maneggiare con meno cura, visto che questo lo tengo in teca come oggetto d'arte.
April
I didn't read anything about this book before I borrowed it so it was a surprise to discover it consists of cut out pages with only a few words remaining on each. At first I wasn't sure how to read it and doubted that it was intended to make sense, but then I found that if you take one page at a time and lift it away so that you can see only the words on that page, there is a coherence to what remains - though I still didn't grasp a narrative beyond the most basic sense that the narrator's fathe ...more
Katie Parker
The book is more of a structural piece of art than a piece of fiction. Die-cut from Bruno Schulz’s Street of Crocodiles, Foer came up with a completely different story from the original work. And that story was actually rather hard for me to follow. They way the words were chosen and strung together, I felt like I was reading especially eloquent magnetic poetry. That’s not to say that it wasn’t good, but the actual plot is just a little difficult to make sense of due to the highly poetic feel:

"O
...more
Gabriella timelordsandwizards
This book was so fun to read! And I really enjoyed the story as well. Definitely recommend this to everyone!
Nuffzz
This book is a piece of art, i find it very hard to rate it.

If i were to rate it as an art piece i would give it a 10/5, the layout, the removed parts and the way the words come together in a fashion that cannot be written normally is very interesting and novel.

However, as a book, you can never get a story out of it, you can guess, but unless you have read the original book i don't think you can ever be sure. It turns around and around creating assumptions but never could i get it right. I am
...more
Sara
It's very hard to rate this book. It took about an hour to finish it and it was worth getting it from the library instead of pumping out all that money to buy my own copy, though i wouldn't mind having it in my bookshelf, but there's rarely any book i would mind having there.
Basically the story is hollow and boring and not really that interesting. I guess that it's a lot better if you've read the original text "Street of Crocodiles" and then read this and compared the two or something? Maybe it
...more
Wesley
I'm not giving the book a rating because I didn't read the whole thing, but I wanted to talk about the 30 or so pages I did read, maybe give some curious people a general idea of the book.

There's no denying this book looks awesome. It is definitely a work of art just in the mere printing, cutting words out of the pages, leaving holes and producing pages with less than ten or so words. It's cool to look at and touch. The concept isn't new though. Collage, in the sense of repurposing art, has seen
...more
Dianah
Jonathan Safran Foer's Tree of Codes is an odd book -- very odd. Foer uses the text of another book -- Bruno Schulz's The Street of Crocodiles -- as a starting point, but instead of embellishing or continuing Schulz's story, Foer removes text. The text he ultimately leaves makes up this very short story, Tree of Codes. The narrator of Foer's story uses a stream-of-consciousness technique to share his thoughts about his parents. The die-cut style tends to force the reader to go slowly and halting ...more
Cintia Andrade
How do you begin to talk about a book whose creative process is in fact a process of erasure?

I have always been curious about Tree of codes because Jonathan Safran Foer is my literary equivalent of Kurt Cobain and I have a ridiculous literary crush on him (and maybe it isn't just a literary crush).

At the same time, I doubted the power of a work of literature whose words were not the author's own, but rather borrowed and rearranged ones. It only took a couple of pages, however, for Safran Foer t
...more
Donovan Richards
Mashup: A Musical Joke

Alone in my room on a winter evening a half decade ago or so, I first heard the music genre titled “mashup.” The band, Girl Talk, sampled multiple songs and layered them into a complex and new composition. While enjoyable, mashup never entered the realm of my favorite music. In my opinion, the genre feels too gimmicky. I am certain if I were to go “clubbing,” I would prefer the stylings of mashup to provide the rhythm to my dancing.

But I don’t dance; I don’t “club.” On the
...more
Debs
The method and reason behind the creation of this work of art is the reasoning behind my giving it fives stars instead of four. I am in awe of what Foer has created; it takes a careful and appreciative artist to pay homage to another person's piece of work through a method of erasure.

At first, I found the piece difficult to read because my eyes kept jumping to phrases or words visible from the other page, but eventually that became part of the wonder; certain unexpected images would emerge just
...more
J.C.
I have not decided what is getting kicked off the top ten list but something is definitely getting kicked off the list after reading this, this, amazing thing. Book is not a word appropriate enough.

It can't be described except to call it a literal work of art, not like the writing is so beautiful it reminds one of fine art. No it is actually an art piece, something to be appreciated over and over again, Die Cuts ( I believe this is what this type of book is called)is a foreign concept to me, and
...more
Nicola
It feels fateful that I received this book as a gift on the same week that I finally moved Mark Z. Danielewski’s Only Revolutions off my to-read shelf (and onto my GTFO-of-my-life shelf), deciding that I am not the type of person who can be bothered wrangling meaning from an epic, free verse poem written from two contradictory perspectives about a time traveller.

Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes is similarly gimmicky: Foer has cut extraneous material out of his favourite book, Bruno Schulz’s
...more
Shiela Chan
A new literary art form? I've never tried reading something like this - cutouts of words in pages, the remaining ones forming new sentences, new ideas, a new story.

Soer transformed the text from the book 'Street of Crocodiles' to a story of his own in 'Tree of Codes'.

It's more like reading poetry than a story I must admit. It was hard to follow my trail of thought at times but some of the sentences were beautifully crafted and it left me in awe.

Overall, I enjoyed turning the delicate pages ca
...more
Troy
Foer's "Tree of Codes" is more an artistic experiment and a love letter to one of his favourite books (Bruno Schulz's "Street of Crocodiles") than an individual narrative. As such it is difficult to review it. As a narrative the words flow beautifully and it further demonstrates Foer's abilities with the english language. On the other hand, I found the story itself often confusing. Ultimately however, I was left with a stronger desire to read Schulz's original piece. If even a part of Foer's dec ...more
Celeste
I really don't understand why people are insisting that this book is a story: it's not a prose narrative, but an erasure poem. I v. much like the idea of this book--using erasure on your favorite book to create something new--as a personal exercise or a dare or a way to spend a Sunday afternoon. But it does not make for a satisfying read. For me it felt unfocused, pretentious, and gimmicky. It bothered me, too, that the slim explanation of the book came at the end and not the beginning. At least ...more
Jennifer Sombrotto
Let me first start by saying that Jonathan Safran Foer is my favorite author, so I am a bit biased in a sense. I feel like everything he creates is extraordinary and a piece of artwork. This book is unlike anything I've ever read before, truly. Jonathan Safran Foer has taken an already existing book, The Street of Crocodiles, and cut out specific words to create an entirely new story. He mentions in the afterword that though this is a new story on it's own, it is also sort of a continuation of t ...more
James


5 stars for creativity. One of my favorite phrases is found on page 109: "August has passed, and yet summer continues by force to grow days. They sprout secretly between the chapters of the year, covertly included between its pages." A quick and intriguing read! It makes me want to read The Street of Crocodiles, which the text is cut out from.
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The Life of a Boo...: Tree of Codes 5 34 Apr 16, 2014 02:45PM  
The Street of Crocodiles 3 24 Jul 26, 2012 08:20AM  
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Jonathan Safran Foer (born 1977) is an American writer best known for his 2002 novel Everything Is Illuminated. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, the novelist Nicole Krauss, and their son, Sasha.
More about Jonathan Safran Foer...

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“How beautiful is forgetting! What relief it would be for the world to lose some of its contents.” 39 likes
“We are not long-term beings. Not heroes of romances in many volumes. For one gesture, for one word alone, we shall make the effort. We openly admit: our creations will be temporary. We shall have this as our aim: a gesture.” 38 likes
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