Published on [Permalink]
Reading time: 2 minutes
Posted in:

Book Notes: The Point of Vanishing

Finished Reading: The Point of Vanishing: A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude by Howard Axelrod 📚

This memoir is a modern echo of Thoreau’s Walden, and because it takes place in the nineties, a time I’m familiar with, I found it more accessible than its famous predecessor. The writing was deeply evocative and at times, quite moving. It was interesting to see how extended solitude impacted his perception and emotional life, and how his ‘new way of seeing’ butted up against expectations from friends, family, and strangers when he returned from the woods.

Selected Quotes:

Even keeping a journal had come to feel strange-as though I was trying to sketch my own outline, to corral the wind, the snow, and the stars into the shape of a man.


I needed to live without the need of putting on a face for anyone, including myself. I needed to be no one, really, while carrying the hope that my particular no one might feel familiar, might turn out to be someone I had known all along-the core of who I’d been as boy, the core of who I might become as a man. Beneath all the masks I’d accumulated over the years, beneath even the masks that resented those masks, there had to be something there, something essential, some sense of reality and of myself that couldn’t be broken.


Susan broke into a desperate smile. “There’s the old Howie,” she said. “Witty. Fun.” She squeezed my arm, as though to dispense more of the old me.