Friday, April 12

The Incredibly Close Book by Safran Foer


Escape from Children's Hospital - that is the title of Jonathan Safran Foer's new book, due for release in 2014.  For a lot of us, the news of a new Safran Foer work is mind-bogglingly glorious.  I believe my heart may have skipped a beat when I found out.  So, naturally, you are the first people I have to tell!

There is just one little paragraph written about it, which can be found on and Jonathan's wikipedia page.  Here it is, verbatim:

A fictionalised account of a life-changing event that happened to the author as a nine-year-old – an explosion in a summer camp science class, which left his best friend without skin on his face or hands, and whose brunt the author avoided by inches and for no good reason – this is a story about the shared trauma of childhood, the potential destructiveness of storytelling, and the redemptive power of friendship. Weaving precariously between non-fiction and fiction, and existing at the intersection of different styles (suspense, memoir, imaginative storytelling), the book moves out from that moment in 1985 to the repercussions on the ever-expanding circle of those affected by it.
The Tree of Codes
I don't think the subject matter even really... matters when it's Jonathan writing.  I have, and I am sure many of you have also, developed a great level of trust in him.  I completely trust him to challenge me, wound me even, jerk the tears out of me, then hug me lovingly and reveal to me an incredible side to myself and the world around me.  His books are an experience and epiphany in love and relationships and community.  

If this is the first time you've ever heard of Jonathan Safran Foer, there is a lot of catching up for you to do.  

Extremely Loud and Incredible Close

Not only are his themes powerfully provocative and moving, his writing is wildly fresh and experimental.  I am currently studying experimental literature at university, and he is high on the list of the masters.  He is an artist of imagery and metaphor, but a lot of his metaphor stems from his incredible manipulation of his books' physical form, and visual literacy.  

Flipbook animations, handwriting and scribblings, weird shapes and patterns, pictures and photographs, words blown up and shrunk and written over each other.  

The words are only one level.  Then, he reveals our primal, instinctive hopes and fears without saying a thing.  

I cannot describe the experience of reading his books that can in any way do it justice.  It is exactly that - an experience.  

Finishing one of his books, I have felt as though it altered everything.  As though I could not live another moment without responding in some way, just as Jonathan himself describes his experience with Schulz's The Street of Crocodiles, which lead him to create the new work of The Tree of Codes by cutting and pasting the words of the original.  (See picture above.)


Everything is Illuminated

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Eating Animals

The Tree of Codes

Please, I implore you to discover Safran Foer for yourself.  I can never escape the immense impact it has had on me, as a reader, writer, and person.  

Flipbook animation
in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

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