Melvin Dixon Vanishing Rooms: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9781573441230

Vanishing Rooms: A Novel

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9781573441230: Vanishing Rooms: A Novel
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Prior to Melvin Dixon’s death from AIDS in 1992 when he was on the verge of breaking out as an acclaimed novelist, his talent was compared to that of Toni Morrison and James Baldwin. In Vanishing Rooms, the author amply demonstrates his literary promise with a compelling love story of interracial sex and urban violence set in Manhattan’s West Village in the 1970s.

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Review:

Completed prior to Dixon's 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. It's 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 gang's murder of Metro that police find him curled up inside the white chalk outlines of Metro's body on the street the next day). Dixon's 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 Jesse's 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 one's 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 novel's considerable accomplishments. --Timothy Murphy

From the Back Cover:

"Vanishing Rooms is an amazing love story for everyone. Hard-hitting and sometimes raw, this wonderful novel speaks to both women and men. I admire Melvin Dixon enormously for his talent and courage."-E. Lynn Harris, author, Not A Day Goes By

"...A short novel of immense impact, Dixon deals lucidly and intelligently with polished brilliance, with themes of race and class and coming out which resonate as strongly now as they did a decade ago."-PlanetOut.com

"...A compelling work of art as blissfully sublime as it is exacting."-Thomas Glave, author, Whose Song?

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780525249658: Vanishing Rooms

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0525249656 ISBN 13:  9780525249658
Publisher: Dutton Adult, 1991
Hardcover

9780452267619: Vanishing Rooms (Plume)

Plume, 1992
Softcover

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