Citizen Review: Vanishing Point

Stalwart M&Q loyalist Jess Horowitz is back with our latest “Citizen Review.” She read Ander Monson’s collection of essays Vanishing Point: Not A Memoir. The book is available now, and you can meet the author when he visits the store on June 15.

Vanishing Point
Ander Monson’s Vanishing Point reminds me of the characters of my creative nonfiction writing classes in college. They would become good friends with the instructor. During workshopping sessions, they would give you good feedback and pick out funny or poignant parts of your essay that you didn’t know you had created. When it was their turn to be workshopped, you were presented with a rich essay, full of long paragraphs and big words. Was it good writing? Was it mindless babble? Were you just not getting it?

This is how I felt many times while reading Monson’s book. He is clearly talented, yet quirky and selective with his prose. There are beautiful moments, like when the author’s eccentricities are revealed in his collection of found objects. Or when he analyzes the other people named Ander (not Anders) in the world. Monson’s “Transubstantiation”, an in-depth meditation on Doritos and other snack foods, belongs in a Best Food Writing anthology. Other essays experiment with layout and footnotes. Monson has even set up a website to accompany the book, where one can go further into his peculiar world.

I’d recommend Vanishing Point for fans of the Believer. Or for students of creative writing looking to expand their palate with an experimental memoir. Or for those wondering what to buy their favorite indie reader, who quite possibly was one of those characters in my writing class.

Jess Horwitz lives in Uptown and likes her books arranged by color.