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← Jonathan Safran Foer: Die cutting a novel

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Showing Revision 2 created 03/31/2014 by Jesse Nguyen.

  1. You know, when I made this book, I didn't think of it
  2. as something that would be difficult to read at all
  3. and I imagine everybody who writes something difficult feels that way
  4. when they send it out into the world.
  5. So, the book is somewhat confusing because it has
  6. a three dimensional aspect.
  7. You can see literally into the book.
  8. I should describe what the book is first.
  9. About maybe three years ago, I got an email
  10. from someone I'd never heard of before
  11. saying, I'm starting a new publishing house
  12. a kind of art literary publishing house, and would you like to make a book? And I can't promise you...
  13. and there's a long list of things she couldn't promise.
  14. I can't promise you lots of sales. I can't promise you
  15. an advance.
  16. I can't promise you this and that and that,
  17. but what I can promise you is that we'll make any book
  18. you want to make.
  19. We'll make it as beautifully as it could be made.
  20. And it's not that I was bowled over by that
  21. so much as I didn't believe it,
  22. and I thought, well she probably doesn't know what she's saying.
  23. Maybe she thought I would want to
  24. I don't know, doodle in a book or something,
  25. but to say we can make any book you want to make...
  26. and so I started thinking, what are the limits
  27. of a book I would want to make?
  28. Not because they were the limits of what a book could be,
  29. but because they were the limits of what I wanted.
  30. And I had for a long time been interested
  31. in a process called die-cutting,
  32. which is an ancient, I don't know if it's ancient, but it's very, very old.
  33. It's been used as long as there's been manufacturing
  34. of pretty much any kind, and it's basically
  35. taking a material out of a material
  36. with a stamp.
  37. Pushing something through a material.
  38. So your car door is made by die-cutting
  39. a piece of steel or whatever.
  40. It's a tough word. I mean, die-cutting.
  41. Die-cutting.
  42. When I saw it the first time, I thought, wow.
  43. Die hard cutting.
  44. It's almost onomatopoeic.
  45. It's not because it doesn't make that sound when it's done,
  46. but it's almost like a Yiddish word.
  47. It sounds like what it is.
  48. In any case, I had wanted to do something
  49. with paper, with die-cutting,
  50. and so I asked her if that would be possible,
  51. and she said yes.
  52. And so we entered into this process that
  53. ended up taking a couple of years,
  54. and I started with one of my favorite books,
  55. which is Bruno Schulz's Street of Crocodiles,
  56. and tried to carve out of it another story.
  57. And I did.
  58. How do you choose words from a text that you
  59. love as much as you love the text by Bruno Schulz?
  60. Well, in a way, loving the text didn't have anything to do with it.
  61. I loved the text because it was so almost exactly because
  62. it was so good for this purpose.
  63. You know, it's just so...
  64. you know, if you were going to eat a food that you love,
  65. you would prefer that the plate be overflowing with it
  66. rather than that there be a tiny little bit in the center of the plate.
  67. I would, anyway.
  68. That's probably a very American thing I just said.
  69. But his book is overflowing with things that I love,
  70. and so when I had to choose the book to commit to a book
  71. to use this process with,
  72. I wanted a very rich palette.
  73. You know, if you're a painter, you don't want a palette with two colors.
  74. Well you might, but you would rather have the choice of as many colors as there are,
  75. and I think his book offers as many colors as any book that there is.