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Vanishing Rooms Melvin Dixon

Vanishing Rooms

Melvin Dixon

Published
ISBN : 9781573446396
ebook
213 pages
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 About the Book 

Completed prior to Dixons early death from AIDS in 1992, Vanishing Rooms is a lovely, lyrical narrative ballet from a talent who just seemed to be reaching full bloom. Its also a bittersweet suggestion of how that talent might have overcome theMoreCompleted prior to Dixons early death from AIDS in 1992, Vanishing Rooms is a lovely, lyrical narrative ballet from a talent who just seemed to be reaching full bloom. Its also a bittersweet suggestion of how that talent might have overcome the occasional pretentious false note to attain true virtuosity had it not been robbed of time. Set in New York City in the fall of 1975, the story shifts fluidly among the voices of Jesse (a young black dancer whose drugged-out white boyfriend Metro has just been brutally murdered by Village gay-bashers), Ruella (a sassy, lonely black female dancer who falls in love with grief-stricken Jesse after taking him in) and Lonny (a 15-year-old, sexually confused Italian street tough so freaked out by his gangs murder of Metro that police find him curled up inside the white chalk outlines of Metros body on the street the next day). Dixons poetic and well-honed prose deserves its likening to James Baldwin and Toni Morrison--this despite its regular lapses into Ntozake Shange preciousness, much of it employing the cliche of dancing as a metaphor for human relations, or turning on Jesses annoying insistence on calling Ruella by the funky nickname Rooms (perhaps to echo the title, taken from a Robert Hayden poem). Many of the themes here, too--of the darker side of interracial desire, the lasting scars inflicted on black, gay, or otherwise outsider childhoods, and the need to either transcend ones demons through art or purge them in a twilit world of drugs and anonymous sex--have become over familiar, especially in the decade since this book was written. But unlike many novels set in NYC between Stonewall and the onset of the plague years, Vanishing Rooms forgoes recreating that frenetic era in all its naturalistic detail for a more broadly brushed, expressionistic landscape. That elegant lens, which Dixon enhances with the chilly, burnished tones of Manhattan in the fall, suffuses Vanishing Rooms with an exquisitely wistful sense of loss--a pressing sense of what we might have hoped for, from Dixon and the rooms his words had yet to fill, that almost undermines this tender novels considerable accomplishments. --Timothy Murphy