Fiction Describing Dorchester

Printed Materials and Film — Dorchester as portrayed in Fiction

Mayrant, Drayton.

Always a River. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1956.

Sandy Purbeck, the young schoolmaster from Dorchester, Massachusetts, loved two women. The first was Ness Goodman, whom he had loved all his life. Gentle and demure, Ness was as different from Nicole Lenoir, the capricious, flashing-eyed French Huguenot emigree, as Sandy’s own birthplace was different from the New Dorchester which the Massachusetts Puritans had built in the South Carolina wilderness.

Fletcher, Grace Nies.

Preacher’s kids. New York: Dutton, 1958.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel.

The Ghost of Dr. Harris

Dennis Lehane.

A Drink Before the War, 1994.

Darkness, Take My Hand, 1996

Sacred, 1997

Gone, Baby, Gone, 1998

Prayers for Rain, 1999.

Mirsky, Mark.

Blue Hill Ave., 1972

The Secret Table, 1975

Thou Worm Jacob, 1967

Blue Hill Avenue the film. Copyright 2002

[note: much of Blue Hill Avenue serves as a dividing line between Roxbury and Dorchester, therefore activity on the Avenue necessarily involves both sections of Boston]

“The film revolves around a group of childhood friends from Roxbury who get caught up in hustling marijuana and eventually taking over Blue Hill Avenue and much of Boston as the go-to men for crack cocaine” during the 1990s. “The lead character wants to get out of the game when he realizes he is ruining the community he was reared in.” The movie was written and directed by Craig Ross, Jr., formerly of Malden. “The movie does not feature positive aspects of the community, and it uses stereotypes that organizations like the NAACP try to discourage being depicted on television and movies.”

The article reports some controversy over the fact that the movie was a straight-to-DVD release.

“The Rev. Eugene Rivers said he thinks the real story of Blue Hill Avenue shou ld be told to the masses — but maybe in a positive, proactive manner. In 1991, Rivers helped found the Boston Ten Point Coalition to try to curtail Boston’s spike in homicides and drugs. Made up of local clergy, the coalition partnered with Boston police to take back the streets. In the late 1990s, the homicide rate dropped. ‘Any film that doesn’t adddress that fact is not a realistic film,’ said Rivers … ‘Boston is significant because it is the city where drugs and violence has been overcome. That story about what happens on Blue Hill Avneue has yet to be told.’

Source: Jennings, Zerline Hughes. “Locals find thrills in this Blue Hill” in The Boston Globe, Jan. 4, 2004, City Weekly Section, p. 3

O’Malley, Thomas and Douglas Graham Purdy.

Serpents in the Cold. (New York: Mulholland Books, Little Brown, 2015)

This is fiction with descriptions of various neighborhoods in Dorchester including Port Norfolk/Tenean Beach, Mattapan, Upham’s Corner and the Savin Hill area.  Some of the comments seem to take artistic license — for example, roads traveled to reach a destination and hearing the church bells from St. Kevin’s in Savin Hill.  There is, however, a seemingly realistic description of the condition of homeless men using discarded truck bodies at Mile Road Dump as temporary residences in the early 1950s.


Posted on

December 4, 2021

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