where the tangent is the architecture
I'm an independent bookseller, so please forgive me if I chatter about books. They're almost all I have.
To chime in (AS IS MY WONT), this book is very readable. Every sentence makes sense, and the book, as you go, creates an impressionistic whole. It is even less garbled than I would like, I think. The only time I can imagine not being able to read it would be with cold clumsy fingers (it is delicate) or maybe if it’s sloppy joe night, in which case put down that forty dollar book and pick up your sloppy joe, you monster (OVER-CAFFED. I DUNNO.)
It’s an astounding sculptural argument for the joys of dead-tree tech, and JSF chose a truly interesting foundational text for it. But the real beauty of the book, to my mind, is that because its pages are literally transparent it makes more obvious the terrible dialectic between depth and opacity in any book. Books are secret, serial. Every revelation is simultaneously an obfuscation. Books are secrets, never told at once. They are gnostic (OBVIOUSLY). They hide their strange twin (wouldn’t we call the text itself the True Book?) folded within, unrevealed but known to exist.
This book can only point to that wilder duality. It is a novel eviscerated so that we might better imagine the muscles of the living beast. Jonathan Safran Foer has, here, gone taxidermist. And so it’s a joy to peer into this thing. You can literally see pages deep. It’s a transgressive keyhole-peeping thrill. But it is not, other than on the surface, the thrill of the novel. We can enjoy the museum of Natural History and the Rift Valley, but hardly in the same way.
To paraphrase the in-store discussion that Jenn and I just had about this: yes, but is reading something from beginning to end really the only purpose of a book? And if it is now, should it always be? And then also insert some weird chatter about modern art.
customer and i agree. it’s a cool concept, but we can’t imagine actually trying to READ it.
which kind of defeats the purpose of, you know, a book.