Synopses & Reviews
An adventurous exploration of the "I" in American culture, by the author of Neck Deep and Other Predicaments
Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me.
In contemporary America, land of tell-all memoirs and endless reality television, what kind of person denies the opportunity to present himself in his own voice, to lead with “I”? How many layers of a life can be peeled back before the self vanishes?
In this provocative, witty series of meditations, Ander Monson faces down the idea of memoir, grappling with the lure of selfinterest and self-presentation. While setting out to describe the experience of serving as head juror at the trial of Michael Antwone Jordan, he cant help veering off into an examination of his own transgressions, inadvertent and otherwise. He scrutinizes his private experience of the public funeral ceremony for Gerald R. Ford. He considers his addiction to chemically concocted Doritos and disappointment in the plain, natural corn chip, and finds that the manufactured, considered form, at least in snacks, is ultimately a more rewarding experience than the “truth.” So why is America so crazy about accurately confessional memoirs?
With Vanishing Point, Monson delivers on the promise shown in Neck Deep, which introduced his winning voice and ability to redefine the essay and “puts most memoirs to shame” (Time Out Chicago).
"Jagged pieces of a mirror that reveal a quirky, informed and immensely curious character."—Kirkus
"I won’t be forgetting about this book anytime soon."—Michael Buening, PopMatters
“David Lazar is both a charmer and a challenger. His supple, cultivated mind is constantly moving, full of surprises; his puckish wit and exacting standards raise the bar for all contemporary literary nonfiction. This is an exciting collection, drawing strength from both the grand essay tradition and the cutting edge, and it is highly recommended.”—Phillip Lopate, editor of The Art of the Personal Essay
“David Lazar is a master of shimmering threshold moments, where acts of assertion and discovery face off (or is it hold hands?). Offering startling intimacies, gentle beckonings, and the severities of hard-won truths, Lazar is fearless about this core belief: investigations of form and self are one and the same adventure.”—Lia Purpura, author of Rough Likeness: Essays
“The spirits of past masters (Montaigne and Charles Lamb among them) animate and infuse the enthralling essays of David Lazar, a succinct virtuoso, whose gift is rueful, charm-filled introspection. His recollections and avowals unfurl with stellar melodiousness, and with a skilled comics perfect timing.”—Wayne Koestenbaum, author of Humiliation
In his new collection of essays, Occasional Desire
, David Lazar meditates on random violence and vanished phone booths, on the excessive relationship to jewelry that links Kobe Bryant and Elizabeth Taylor, on Hitchcock, Francis Bacon, and M. F. K. Fisher. He explores, in his concentrically self-aware, amused, and ironic voice, what it means to be occasionally aware that we are surviving by our wits, and that our desires, ulterior or obvious, are what keep us alive. Lazar also turns his attention on the essay itself, affording us a three-dimensional look at the craft and the art of reading and writing a literary form that maps the world as it charts the peregrinations of the mind.
Lazar is especially interested in the trappings of memory, the trapdoors of memory, the way we gild or codify, select, soften, and self-delude ourselves based on our understanding of the past. His own process of selection and reflection reminds us of how far this literary form can take us, bound only by the limits of desire and imagination.
About the Author
Ander Monson is the author of Neck Deep and Other Predicaments, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize; the novel Other Electricities; and the poetry collections Vacationland and The Available World. He lives in Arizona and edits the magazine Diagram.