The Point of Vanishing

The Point of Vanishing

A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude

Book - 2015
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On a clear May afternoon at the end of his junior year at Harvard, Howard Axelrod left his dorm-room to play a pick-up game of basketball. In the skirmish for a loose ball, a boy's finger hooked behind Axelrod's eyeball and severed his optic nerve. Permanently blinded in his right eye, Axelrod returned a week later to the same dorm-room, but to a different world. A world where nothing looked solid, where the smooth veneer of reality had been broken, and where the distance between how people saw him and how he saw had widened into a gulf. Five years later, heartbroken from a love affair in Italy and still desperate for a sense of orientation he could trust, Axelrod retreated to a jerry-rigged house in the Vermont woods. Miles from the nearest neighbor, at the dead-end of an unmaintained dirt road, he lived without a computer, without a television, and largely without human contact for two years. Whether tending to the woodstove, or snow-shoeing through the trees, he devoted his energies to learning to see again--to paying attention. He needed to find, with society's pressures and rush now removed, what really mattered. He needed to dig down to a sense of meaning that couldn't be changed in an instant. What followed was a strange and beautiful series of sensory adventures, shadowed by a haunting descent into the dangers of solitude. A gorgeous search into the profoundly human questions of perception, time, and identity, The Point of Vanishing announces the arrival of a major new literary voice of the timeless--which is to say, a major new voice for our harried times.
Publisher: Boston : Beacon Press, 2015
ISBN: 9780807075463
Characteristics: 211 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

Lisa G. says: "While a junior in college, Axelrod loses sight in one eye in a freak accident. As physical illness or injury can, the perceptual change shakes his foundation. Disoriented and questioning for the first time the life course that came with his privileged upbringing, Axelrod retre... Read More »

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Jan 06, 2018

Living alone in a cabin in the woods is a good way to re-set. Everyone who adopts this lifestyle has a different reason. The author writes about what sent him to the woods and what brought him back out again. I really enjoyed his descriptions of the cabin, how he tended it and also his time spent outdoors walking in the woods near his cabin- punishing as the weather might be.

May 30, 2016

This is an intriguing memoir written by a young man doing some serious soul-searching in an isolated cabin in the wilderness. His observations on the nature of perception and identity are very interesting and insightful. Well-written.

Mar 29, 2016

I had a difficult time at the start of the book as the author jumps around and seems to bringing things in randomly, then a pattern emerges and the rest is good reading.


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