Jonathan Safran Foer Tells All

The Author on His New Book, Cell Phones, and What He’d Be if He Weren’t a Writer

jonathan safran foer!

The first thing we thought when we saw Jonathan Safran Foer’s new book, Tree of Codes: paper cuts (its pages are full of rectangular holes). Then we read the poem cut from a preexisting novel, and something else came to mind: Find him.

We tracked down the charming 33-year-old author at his Brooklyn, New York, home, where he talked about everything from the book to disliking cell phones — and his secret hobby.

So besides cutting up books, what are you into right now?
I like Rufus Wainwright’s newest CD. Someone also just gave me Leonard Cohen’s live CD. I didn’t quite get him at first, but he’s amazing. And there are a lot of movies I want to see.

Speaking of movies, are you involved with the film adaptation of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close?
Only minimally. I know all the people involved, and I like and trust all of them.

Doesn’t it make you just a little nervous?
Not at all. First of all, I think they are going to do a good job. Secondly, I don’t know if I’m in a position to recognize if they do a good job or don’t. I’m too close to it. But also I don’t buy this thing that moviemakers can ruin a book. All they can do is ruin a movie. The book is the book. Movies always bring readers to books. They never take readers away from books.

Do you have aspirations outside of writing?
I hope so. I have aspirations to be a good dad and a good friend. I would like to make things that I believe in. Things that feel authentic and that I recognize myself in. Oh, and to stop using e-mail. I’m giving back my BlackBerry when my contract ends.

Whoa, that’s something most of us can’t do.
We have to do it, or else we’re totally f- - -ed. We’re going to be on our deathbeds looking back, being like, “How much time did I spend on e-mail looking up stuff I didn’t care about?” We don’t need them. We totally don’t. We only believe we do.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I’d be a doctor. I thought I wanted to be a doctor. I still sometimes think I want to be a doctor.

It’s not too late with postbac programs.
Nah, it’s too late.

Imagine if people were like, “Guess who’s in my class, man.”
Guess who checked my prostate! (laughs)

Read the rest of our interview with Safran Foer, including his take on electronic reading devices, his inspiration for Tree of Codes, and what he reads to his children at bedtime. To see what other creative things he does, check out our gallery. For more information or to buy Tree of Codes, go to amazon.com.

Photo: Janelle Jones