Vanishing Point: A Novel Paperback – 1 Jan 2004
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"No one but Beckett can be quite as sad and funny at the same time as Markson can."
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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.
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.
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.