Citizen Review #2: Vanishing Point

Last month Jess Horowitz gave us her “Citizen Review” of Ander Monson’s collection of essays Vanishing Point: Not A Memoir. Now Hilary Wentworth brings us another take on this fascinating book. Get your own copy now and meet the author when he visits the store on June 15.

Vanishing Point
Hey, remember when books were fun? Remember staying up all night with a Choose Your Own Adventure, the story playing out in seemingly infinite ways? Ander Monson gets it. He understands the need for something more than just printed words on a page.

Monson describes his new project, Vanishing Point, as “a hacked out space between book and whatever’s beyond book.” And it’s just that. Throughout the physical book are dagger-shaped symbols that lead not to the bottom of the page or to the end, but to that most wonderful of places: the internet. The actual book is only part of the experience. In order to have fully “read” Vanishing Point, you need to go to Monson’s website and type in the noted words, an act that unlocks additional texts and images.

Many of Monson’s essays are about layers–of paint, of flavor, of self–so this electronic accessing, this unpeeling, of information makes sense to me. And like the life behind it, the book doesn’t just end. It goes on, perhaps indefinitely if Monson keeps adding to the site. I happen to love footnotes and endnotes; I think that’s where the real juicy stuff resides. If you’re like me, then buy this book . . . and let the games begin.

Hillary Wentworth recently moved to Minneapolis from New Hampshire. She misses her state motto.