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Vanishing Point: A Novel Paperback – January 1, 2004
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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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.
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
Top customer reviews
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A collection of thoughts, quotes, ideas, joined in a book in order to make reality a novel (which is the vanishing point). There is no novel, just the material (bricks) to make it work when the writer (who called himself "author") begin to write, something that doesn't happen yet.
Every sentence has been carefully chosen and delivered. There is not a single page without something surprising, interesting, astonishing.
Try it. It's more than a book, it's something beyond that.
I love to read those little snippets that usually show up in sidebars of magazines and books that have that AHA! factor. This book is filled with AHA's.
There is not the scent of a plot; nor is there any hint of a character other than the mysterious Author who seems to be going through something much worse than writer's block.
The reason to read this book is to enjoy the factoids while hoping for some insight to any message hidden in them. Make sure you read this while around at least one other person - you WILL have an uncontrollable urge to read many AHA's aloud to someone.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
A travel through the thinking flow of a curious mind.