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Vanishing Point: A Novel Paperback – January 1, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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 rain of pearls, sometimes connected sometimes randomly posted...or not?
A travel through the thinking flow of a curious mind.
Markson's reputation is great, and I was doubtful that he could pull off fragments for 150 pages, but he did it. The scope of his learning is amazing. Read morePublished 23 months ago by olingerstories
It's been lunar years since I flipped through the musty pages of this once hallowed tome ...something to do with shoeboxes full of messy note cards and words that go bump in the... Read morePublished on September 25, 2014 by Billy Joe Crawdad
I would recommend this as an innovative and intriguing experiment in the novel form. Be prepared for the absence of characters, dialogue, etc. Read morePublished on January 26, 2014 by David A. Kelly
When I read the description about the 3x5 cards to my wife, she started laughing - and pointed to my shirt pocket. Read morePublished on March 19, 2008 by Tanstaafl
Cracking open VANISHING POINT, I was immediately reminded of my art school days... but not painfully so. Read morePublished on September 11, 2006 by chris romano
I am not sure that I have the full measure of this, but it was an entertaining read. Highly allusive, I can imagine it could irritate anyone whose knowledge didn't match up with... Read morePublished on July 17, 2005 by Amazon Customer
Interesting little tidbits of information all written in a novel. The author writes that" he finally put all of his notes into a manuscript" Notes that were taken from shoeboxes... Read morePublished on November 22, 2004 by Ellen