Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction/Crime Fiction/Short Story Collection
Approximate word count: 45-50,000 words
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A native of Buffalo, NY, Frank E. Dobson is the director of the Johnson Black Cultural Center at Vanderbilt University and teaches creative writing at Fisk University.
For more, visit Mr. Dobson's website.
Subtitled “Stories of Blacks and Whites, Love and Death,” Rendered Invisible is a collection of short fiction, connected by the themes of “racial and social relationships.”
This collection consists of five pieces of short fiction and a novella.
My reaction to the short fiction was a grab bag of thoughts and emotions, some of the pieces connecting well, helping me better understand how the life of a young, black man is different than it is for old white guys like me. At other times, the stories were too far from anything I could relate to well enough to understand. Either way, I found myself at times feeling uncomfortable, not because of the stories, but because they rang so true.
The meat of the book is the novella Rendered Invisible that lends its name to the collection as a whole. While fiction, this story is based on an actual serial killer responsible for several murders in Buffalo, New York. Known as the .22 Caliber Killings, this killer targeted young black men, primarily in the Buffalo area although he sometimes ventured farther afield. I'd previously read and reviewed a non-fiction, true crime book pertaining to this crime spree that had problems. I was primed for something better. This novella was well done, interspersing the actual facts surrounding the killings and the reactions of the public with the story of how one fictional character reacted. In the end, the fiction helped drive home the reality of the situation better than the truth ever could on its own.
Some adult content
No significant issues.
Rating: **** Four Stars