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Vanishing Point: A Novel Paperback – January 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Shoemaker & Hoard (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593760108
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593760106
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #454,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With his seventh novel, Markson, an avant-garde favorite for works like Wittgenstein's Mistress, which David Foster Wallace called "pretty much the high point of experimental fiction in this country," proves once again that his trademark fragmental style yields boundless meditations on the mythologized lives of great artists and thinkers, as well as the somewhat hapless project of constructing and controlling a novel. Author, who began the book with two shoeboxes full of notes, only rears his head occasionally, to mention that he's a procrastinator, that he's "damnably tired" and physically clumsy "as if his Adidas had whims of their own," and that despite his best efforts to arrange his notes, he has no idea where the book is headed. Yet for all his supposed relinquishing of control, he's omnipresent and clearly omnipotent, steering the narrative into increasingly murky waters. As the novel progresses, he includes more and more references to the deaths of artists ("Devon, Jean Rhys died in," "Heidegger was buried in the same small-town German cemetery he had passed every day... eight decades before") and the book's quotes, once neatly attributed to anyone from Plutarch to Dorothy Parker, disintegrate in the latter half, not always attributed, littering the once sturdy narrative like so much detritus at sea. We are left wondering, as Author does, "Where can the book possibly wind up without him?" Striking, devilishly playful ("If on a winter's night with no other source of warmth Author were to burn a Julian Schnabel, qualms? Qualmless") and with a deeply philosophical core, this novel proves once more that Markson deserves his accolades and then some.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Following his last novel, the wryly titled This Is Not a Novel (2001), Markson offers another thought-provoking work that extends and challenges the traditional novel form by stringing together snippets of information ranging from quotes by artists and writers to trivia about historical figures to commentary on current news events. The premise is that "The Author," as the narrator refers to himself, is assembling a box of note cards full of information he has gathered over the years with the hope of forging a novel. Life then imitates art as Markson literally accomplishes what his narrator hopes to: he creates a novel out of fragments of ideas and information. Vanishing Point feels a little like a literary Trivial Pursuit, or the associative stream of consciousness produced by a surrealist party game, and it's just as entertaining. Markson deserves great credit for his literary experimentation, which will appeal to open-minded readers who welcome a fresh and witty approach to narration. Janet St. John
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
47%
4 star
41%
3 star
12%
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See all 17 customer reviews
There is no plot, there are no characters, there are no chapters.
Louis N. Gruber
Like Author, I was unwittingly swept into the vaguely existant narrative and pressed together the covers with a satisfying sense of enrichment.
Sean C. Flynn
David Markson's book, Vanishing Point, is the third book in a tetralogy of experimental novels concerning an aging author.
Chattan Gordon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sean C. Flynn on February 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book a bit apprehensively, being aware of Markson's experimental style of narration. How could this possibly be termed a "novel" if it is merely a collection of facts from literature, history, music, politics, philosophy and religion? On a foundation such as this, how can one build the basic elements of plot, character and setting? As I read the book, however, I found myself marvelling at Markson's unique skill and vision. The "Author" of the novel arranges his massive collection of information in such a way that the elements in question are completed in the mind of the reader, like looking at an incomplete picture and mentally filling in the blanks. By the end of the book, I was acutely aware of having been moved - remarkably by a superficially disjointed series of anecdotes. Like Author, I was unwittingly swept into the vaguely existant narrative and pressed together the covers with a satisfying sense of enrichment. The flawless blend of tragedy, humor, ambition and madness in the world of human creativity (and destruction) remind the reader of the pleasures and pains of being in touch with truth. Markson will be remembered for this one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Cullom on July 11, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Markson has written this book 4 times, 5 if you include Wittgenstein's Mistress. They're all worth reading but this one is perfect. Markson uses quotations and literary anecdotes almost exclusively to paint a portrait of the author character. That may sound like a difficult read but it's not. It's actually a real page turner. In the ratio of wisdom extracted to reading time invested, this book is one of the highest (Gatsby maybe, Elizabeth Costello, Ficciones, around that level). What else do you want out of literature?

I can't believe this is out of print, I've bought 4 copies of this because I keep giving it away to friends in the midst of drunken literary discussions.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By alexander laurence on April 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
David Markson is one of the most well read and literary people I know. Conrad Aiken, Malcolm Lowry, William Gaddis, and Frederick Exley were among his friends. He is the author of Wittgenstein's Mistress, which Ann Beattie has called "An absolute masterpiece." He is also the author of Springer's Progress and Reader's Block. He has lived in Greenwich Village for almost fifty years.
Markson was a big reader of literary allusions and quotations. When he first read Under The Volcano, he wrote a fan letter to Malcolm Lowry. They met in Canada a while letter. Markson went on a personal crusade to draw attention to Lowry's work: "Which is why I wrote a master's thesis (at Columbia) on Lowry's Under The Volcano only four years after it was published, for instance, when nobody else had written anything except the original reviews, and so I had the allusions all to myself to dig out."
Markson was also the first person to give William Gaddis' The Recognitions its high rank also. He called it the most important American novel since Moby Dick? "Actually it was just a throwaway passage in an old detective novel I wrote," Markson confesses, "but there too it was only three years after Gaddis had published. I'm delighted, or even honored, when I'm still given credit for it.
Although he would give his right arm to have written The Recognitions, Markson is looks down at Gaddis' later work: "That business of the nonstop conversation, with all the repetitions and digressions and so forth that are supposed to be precisely like real life--except that art is selectivity, damn it. I read an interview where he talked about authorial absense, but what happens instead is that what he hopes will sound natural simply sounds faked.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chattan Gordon on May 31, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Markson's book, Vanishing Point, is the third book in a tetralogy of experimental novels concerning an aging author. The other works in the tetralogy are: Reader's Block, the ironically titled This Is Not a Novel, and The Last Novel. Like Markson's other works, Vanishing Point is avante-garde and highly original. It has no narrative or plot to speak of, yet conveys its theme in a remarkably engaging fashion.

The novel begins by telling us that "Author has finally started to put his notes into manuscript form," that he has been scribbling notes onto 3x5 index cards and that the cards now fill two shoeboxes. With that, the novel launches into nearly 200 pages of the scribblings and notes themselves. The notes are a seemingly random reiteration of trivia and musings concerning art, literature, history, science and civilization. Sometimes the notes contain anecdotes or facts; at other times the notes consist of little more than a name or phrase. Gradually, we learn that Author is elderly, enervated and without motivation to do much more than rearrange the order of the cards. Here and there, we learn what Author has in mind --"a novel of intellectual reference and allusion...minus much of the novel." A sense of order begins to appear and the theme of approching death emerges.

This novel is never boring and, despite its formlessness, is actually quite difficult to put down. There is an almost addictive quality to the notes. Markson's protagonists are often isolated and almost hermetically sealed off from social contact and relationships. Yet these characters have genuine insight into the human condition and express humanist feelings. The protagonist in this novel is no exception. By the book's end, I found myself laughing with and shedding a tear over a sparsely-developed, unnamed character whose inner life I was only allowed to glimpse through a collection of jotted notes. In that sense, Vanishing Point is an amazing work.
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