The Point of Vanishing


The Point of Vanishing


Named one of the best books of the year by slate, The Chicago tribune, entropy Magazine, and one of the top 10 memoirs by library journal

After losing vision in one eye during his junior year at Harvard, Howard Axelrod found himself in a world where nothing was solid, where the smooth veneer of reality had been shattered, and where the distance between how people saw him and how he saw himself had widened into a gulf.

Five years later, heartbroken from a love affair in Italy and desperate for a sense of orientation, Axelrod retreated to a small house in the Vermont woods. Miles from the nearest neighbor, he lived with barely any human contact or communication for two years. Whether tending to the woodstove or snow-shoeing through the forest, he devoted his energies to learning to see again—to paying attention and to rediscovering what really matters.

A gorgeous memoir of solitude in an age of superficial connection, The Point of Vanishing probes the profoundly human questions of perception, time, identity, and meaning.

A sensitive and sensual book about seeing and feeling deeply; witty, wise and beautifully written from beginning to end. When a debilitating accident rocks his world, Axelrod finds himself in free fall, the gleaming trajectory of his successful life suddenly tarnished and unclear. In documenting his retreat to a snowy solitude and the lessons learned there, Axelrod creates a surprisingly suspenseful narrative. I was constantly torn between wanting to savor his prose and tear through the pages to learn what happened next.
— Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of MARCH
Deeply alive and exciting and nuanced, a story of injury and years alone in the woods, THE POINT OF VANISHING is 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. Though this book is set largely in the snow and silence, there are embers of hunger and questioning and longing that glow deep in its core and refuse to be cooled. Their heat charges and illuminates every moment of these pages. Powerful and ineffable, it feels like a blessing.
— Leslie Jamison, author of THE EMPATHY EXAMS
Blindness and insight are the twin subjects of Howard Axelrod’s intricate and beautiful memoir of his two years of solitude. In detailing his growing estrangement from ‘ordinary’ life, Axelrod offers a vision of what most of us take for granted. 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 THERE'S SOMETHING I WANT YOU TO DO
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, founder of 350.org and author of OIL AND HONEY
Out of sudden and profound loss, Axelrod has drawn a haunting, tender memoir that grips like an emotional thriller. THE POINT OF VANISHING is raw, exquisitely written, and full of poetic insights. This is a big book about big truths that matter to us all.
— Bella Pollen, author of THE SUMMER OF THE BEAR

About the Author

About the Author

Howard Axelrod’s work has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, PoliticoSalon, VQR, and the Boston Globe, among other publications. Axelrod is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Loyola University Chicago. The Point of Vanishing is his first book.



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