In 2010 Jonathan Safran Foer cut most of the words out of his favorite book, The Street of Crocodiles, by Bruno Schulz. What was he thinking as he snipped and snipped?

"I'm about to set David free from this drab slab of marble"

"Any flakes of this masterpiece glitter like gold"

"What even ARE die cut expenses?"

He must have thought the last, at least, because after sweeping away a drift of Schulz confetti he published what remained as Tree of Codes. Even the title is a pruned version of the original. The idea is similar to blackout poetry, except blackout poetry finds a poem from a single constellation of words from one page in a novel, it doesn't find a new novel from a novel. And blackout poetry draws a single line over the unused words. Isn't there just more humility in a marker than in a knife? What a brazen stunt to pull on your favorite book, Jonathan.

But the book stopped being a joke to me when I met a copy last week, belonging to my dear friend Con. I leafed though its lacy pages and read the words Foer spared and I identified with the whole book, cover to cover. I felt like I was reading my life. Or an account of me trying to make sense of life. I could only catch a smattering of words from a rich story. This is how it feels. Meandering from page to page, the story not feeling like a story, forgetting the shreds of ideas I'd reached only the page before and getting both lost and ahead of myself on the current page. What am I missing? I want to see all the words.

And now I want to read The Street of Crocodiles, as though comparing Foer's descendent story to its original would give me some hints as to what I miss in my own descending story. In the meantime I practice at seeing which words in this life I do read and think about why I attend to them. Is it just the mood of the day? How can I read the words I don't see?