By (author) Melvin Dixon
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Vanishing Rooms by Melvin Dixon
Book DescriptionJesse Durand is a black gay dancer with twin passions: his dancing and Metro, his white boyfriend. Upon relocating to New York, however, the couple finds their relationship radically challenged. Metro turns to drugs and rough sexual encounters with strangers, leaving Jesse confused and unable to come to terms with his lover's sudden change in personality. When Metro is murdered by gay-bashers, Jesse is pushed further into an emotional darkness from which he emerges only through the help of Ruella, his black female dance partner who is facing her own set of emotional challenges. Together, Jesse and Ruella find the support necessary to move forward with their lives. With this novel Dixon was acclaimed as following in the footsteps of such 20th century greats as William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and Flannery O'Connor.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9781573441230
(198mm x 129mm x 17mm)
Imprint: Cleis Press
Publisher: Cleis Press
Publish Date: 25-May-2001
Country of Publication: United States
US Kirkus Review » With this sensitive, vividly written novel, Dixon (Trouble the Water, 1989) successfully probes the raw wounds of homophobia and racism, but a false note is his depiction of a white youth caught up in gay-bashing. The story is told in the alternating first-person narratives of Jesse, a gay, black dancer; Ruella, a black woman, also a dancer, who loves Jesse for a time despite his inability to respond sexually; and Lonny, the white lumpen youth who participates in the gang-rape/murder of Jesse's white lover. The most compelling and believable of these is Jesse, who can't get over the lover he met in college, a white southerner drawn to rough sex whose death is the outcome of his interest in Lonny. Ruella, whom Jesse calls "Rooms" because she represents sanctuary from his stressful life, is complex and absorbing in her love for a man just out of reach, but at times seems rather bloodless. Lonny, meanwhile, is all cardboard. Neither his language nor his attitudes ring true as those of a white slum kid. Ruella is attracted to Jesse initially because of the powerful way they interact while dancing, and throughout the 224-page book dance is shown as an intregal part of their lives. The scene is N.Y.C., but not quite contemporary, since AIDS is never mentioned and there are graphic scenes of anonymous sex at the wharfs and a bathhouse. Two homosexual gang-rapes are described in detail, the victim of the second being Lonny, attacked in prison, ironically, while serving time for his role in the first. Not all of this works, but when it does it's a poignant, poetic treatment of the black and homosexual experience, leavened by a love of dance. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Melvin Dixon
Melvin Dixon won the Nilon Award for Excellence for his first novel Trouble the Water. His poetry and short stories have been widely anthologised appearing in Terry McMillan's collection Breaking Ice, The Men on Men Anthology and Poets for Life, amongst others. He has also taught writing at Columbia University and City University of New York. He died of AIDS in 1992.
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