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Vanishing Point [Paperback]

David Markson

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Book Description

19 Feb 2004
In the literary world, there is little that can match the excitement of opening a new book by David Markson. From Wittgenstein's Mistress to Reader's Block to Springer's Progress to This Is Not a Novel, he has delighted and amazed readers for decades. And now comes his latest masterwork, Vanishing Point, wherein an elderly writer (identified only as "Author") sets out to transform shoeboxes crammed with notecards into a novel--and in so doing will dazzle us with an astonishing parade of revelations about the trials and calamities and absurdities and often even tragedies of the creative life--and all the while trying his best (he says) to keep himself out of the tale. Naturally he will fail to do the latter, frequently managing to stand aside and yet remaining undeniably central throughout--until he is swept inevitably into the narrative's starting and shattering climax. A novel of death and laughter both--and of extraordinary intellectual richness.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Shoemaker & Hoard, Div of Avalon Publishing Group Inc (19 Feb 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593760108
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593760106
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 14.2 x 1.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"No one but Beckett can be quite as sad and funny at the same time as Markson can."

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Markson is a Master 22 Feb 2004
By Sean C. Flynn - Published on Amazon.com
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the Bunch 11 July 2007
By John Cullom - Published on Amazon.com
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.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic concatenation 13 Feb 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
i loved this narrative. anyone who finds rilke's date of death an important detail has my undying attention.
the author is a great voice.
a poet's dream.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cult to Classic 27 Jan 2004
By Leslie H. Whitten - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
With "Vanishing Point," the amazing David Markson lifts himself from cult status to author of what should be a popular instant classic. This mysterious and awe-inspiring examination of a dying writer is a worthy companion to Joyce, Genet and Beckett. Its "Waiting for Godot" quality is invigorated by courage and introspection, its contantly renewed variety educates and deepens with each reading.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Link To The Past 20 April 2004
By alexander laurence - Published on Amazon.com
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. It's a gimmick, and it ultimately makes us infinitely more conscious of the writer than we'd ever be otherwise."
Markson has little interest in current fiction, although he occasionally reads it. His all-time list would include Moby Dick, Wuthering Heights, The Stranger, early Celine, The Sot-Weed Factor, Nightwood, The Ginger Man, early Beckett. He thought very little of Thomas Pynchon. "I've got an odd bias against him. I've always believed that it's a serious reader's responsibility to pick up on virtually any valid literary allusion--even though a shrewd novelist tries to bury such things too, of course, so that the context makes sense even if the resonances are missed."
Markson did read Infinite Jest when it came out, but would make no comment. He remarked "Most of your enthusiasm is for the major stuff just before your own time. But deep down I know, know, that there are books out there just as good as Under The Volcano or The Recognitions--and it's my own damned loss that I've misread them."
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