The Point of Vanishing: A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude

Author(s): Howard Axelrod

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On a clear May afternoon at the end of his junior year at Harvard, Howard Axelrod played a pick-up game of basketball. In a skirmish for a loose ball, a boy's finger hooked behind Axelrod's eyeball and left him permanently blinded in his right eye. A week later, he returned to the same dorm room, but to a different world. A world where nothing looked solid, where the distance between how people saw him and how he saw had widened into a gulf. Desperate for a sense of orientation he could trust, he retreated to a jerry-rigged house in the Vermont woods, where he lived without a computer or television, and largely without human contact, for two years. He needed to find, away from society's pressures and rush, a sense of meaning that couldn't be changed in an instant.


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Axelrod lyrically captures the essence of nature as he ponders his own self-worth and purpose in life. . . . In his first book, the author pushes beyond the boundaries and safety nets of the modern world and opens a doorway to feelings and experiences many long for but never encounter. His writing is a balm for world-weary souls. A vibrant, honest, and poetic account of how two years of solitude surrounded by nature changed a man forever. "Kirkus Reviews," Starred Review This elegant, questioning memoir details that moment and events prior to it, but mostly it achingly limns Axelrod s two years living alone in a ramshackle cabin in the Vermont woods. His writing whether describing an aspect of the wilderness around him or noting the first lesson of solitude: everything really is your fault is lush and savory, exact in its intent to document just how Axelrod regained the ability to feel that quiet of already belonging. That he allows the reader to participate in this journey, from whatever distance, is more than a pleasure it s an honor. . . .Axelrod so adroitly and wisely re-creates the youngster he was that readers forget the passing of time, hearing only the voice of sorrow, longing, and determination. This memoir is a keeper, touching and eloquent, full of hard lessons learned. Readers will hope for more from first-time-author Axelrod. "Booklist," Starred Review Deeply alive and exciting and nuanced, . . . all about what it means to see, and how we might ask ourselves to see differently to live differently in our own bodies, and in the world . . . Powerful and ineffable, it feels like a blessing. Leslie Jamison, author of "The Empathy Exams" Axelrod uses his seclusion in the natural solitary world of the North in winter to explore how we can have vision without really seeing. Well written with an honesty one can respect, "The Point of Vanishing" is more than an exploration of the human soul; it is a discovery of how our bodies can compensate and complement for our senses when we experience the partial loss of one. Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books This is a very real book, in bone-on-bone contact with the actual world. It made me think about my own life in new ways, and I think it will do the same for you. Bill McKibben, author "Deep Economy " Blindness and insight are the twin subjects of Howard Axelrod s intricate and beautiful memoir of his two years of solitude. . . . The unimportant falls away, in this book, and what comes closer is a luminous sense of the essential, the beautiful, the sacred, and the unspeakable. Charles Baxter, author of "The Feast of Love" A sensitive and sensual book about seeing and feeling deeply; witty, wise, and beautifully written from beginning to end. Geraldine Brooks, author of "March""

Howard Axelrod s work has appeared in the "New York Times Magazine," "Shambhala Sun," and the "Boston Globe," among other publications. He currently teaches at Grub Street in Boston, where he lives. "The Point of Vanishing" is his first book."

General Fields

  • : 9780807075463
  • : Beacon Press
  • : Beacon Press
  • : September 2015
  • : 216mm X 140mm X 18mm
  • : United States
  • : December 2015
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Howard Axelrod
  • : Paperback
  • : English
  • : 614.5/997092 B
  • : 224