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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Foer and Sugimoto and Serra, Oh My!

Last night Jonathan Safran Foer hosted a salon cum book discussion at the Upper East Side home of a New York Public Library supporter. While the planned scope of discussion was limited to his new novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Foer veered off topic several times and revealed something buried so deeply in his psyche that he managed to keep it hidden in that painfully precious Times Magazine profile from a few weeks ago: Foer has visual artist envy.

At various points during the evening, Foer admitted the following:

One thing he didn’t admit: stealing Glenn Ligon’s shtick a couple times in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by compressing the type as it runs down the page, rendering it illegible by the bottom.

Foer also mentioned a project he has in progress that promises to be even more idiosyncratic than anything he has done to date. He is collaborating on a book with Hiroshi Sugimoto. Foer is writing the text for a collection of Sugimoto photos of Richard Serra sculptures. The target audience for this book, I guess, is people who can’t hop Metro North to Beacon to see the real things for themselves.

How did Foer get brought into this project? When he was an undergrad, before he was known as a writer, someone gave him a book of Sugimoto’s photographs. He wrote Sugimoto a fan letter, and the two developed a friendship. They’re now so tight that Foer and his wife spent their month-long honeymoon traveling around Japan with Sugimoto. I hope for the sake of Foer’s marriage that his wife likes (no, loves) wax museums and plaster stereometric models as much as he and Hiroshi do.

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