A review of

Vanishing Point

by David Markson

Central question: Is this not a novel?
Format: 191 pp., paperback; Size: 5-1⁄2” x 8-1⁄4”; Run: 8,000; Price: $15; Editor: Trish Hoard; Agent: Elaine Markson; Jacket designer: Kimberly Glider; Book designer: Mark McGarry of Texas Type & Bookworks; Publisher: Shoemaker & Hoard; Years spent in the writing: About two; Text typeface: Linotype Fairfield; Number of computers used in composition of novel: 0; Representative sentence: “Where did Author learn that Boris Pasternak borrowed the name Zhivago from the manufacturer’s identification on a Moscow manhole cover?”

“Nonlinear. Discontinuous. Collage-like. An assemblage… A novel of intellectual reference and allusion, so to speak minus much of the novel.”

Author’s description of his latest work in progress.

“Author” being the unnamed narrator of David Markson’s new novel, Vanishing Point.

Description could apply to Vanishing Point as well, saving Reviewer time and effort. Or to Reader’s Block (1996), also by Markson.

“Nonlinear. Discontinuous. Collage-like. An assemblage.”

Penultimate paragraph of Reader’s Block, being the narrator’s description of his latest work in progress.

“Reader,” the narrator is known as.

“A seminonfictional semifiction,” says Vanishing Point’s Author.

Referring to the narrator, of course, not to Markson. The quote itself, naturally, refers to the work in progress in Vanishing Point. Or to Vanishing Point. Language can be so imprecise sometimes.

“Obstinately cross-referential and of cryptic interconnective syntax,” Author continues. Which is what Reader says of Reader’s Block. Verbatim, more or less.

“Probably by this point more than apparent—or surely for the attentive reader.

“As should be Author’s experiment to see how little of his own presence he can get away with throughout.”

Albany, New York, December 20, 1927.

“I have no wish to imply anything in regard to this coincidence…”

Says narrator Kate in Wittgenstein’s Mistress (1988).

“A certain number of such connections do appear to keep on coming up, however.”

This Is Not a Novel (2001). Springer’s Progress (1977). Going Down (1970). The Ballad of Dingus Magee (1966).

“Author has finally started to put his notes into manuscript form.”

First line of Vanishing Point.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

—Jorge Morales

Jorge Morales writes about books and film for the Village Voice.

STAY CONNECTED
News on Facebook Photos on Instagram Stuff on Pinterest Announcements by RSS Sounds on Soundcloud Exclusives on Tumblr Updates on Twitter

Subscribe to our mailing list