elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

John Rechy (born March 10, 1934)

John Francis Rechy (born March 10, 1934 in El Paso, Texas) is an American author. In his novels he has written extensively about homosexual culture in Los Angeles and wider America, and is among the pioneers of modern LGBT literature. Drawing on his own background, he has also contributed to Chicano literature, especially with his novel The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez, which is taught in several Chicano literature courses in the United States. His work has often faced censorship due to its sexual content, particularly (but not solely) in the 1960s and 1970s, but books such as City of Night have been best sellers, and he has many literary admirers.

Rechy is the author of the following novels and other works:

- City of Night (Grove Press, 1963): According to Rechy, "City of Night began as a letter to a friend of mine after I had been to New Orleans. I wrote City of Night because they were my experiences hustling, and it began as a letter. I didn't think of it as a book. But it should begin in El Paso . . . . in Texas". It is a story of a lonely male hustler who desperately seeks to find love on the bright neon streets of New York City, Los Angeles, and New Orleans.

- Numbers (Grove Press, 1967): In Numbers, the protagonist seeks to convince himself that he is desirable, if not loved, by the sheer numbers of men who bed him; however, he has a problem he can't solve—he's getting older, and his looks are beginning to fade.

- This Day's Death (Grove Press, 1969): This Day's Death looks at a man whose dying mother and humiliating trial (on "lewd behaviour" charges following an arrest in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California) leave him with nothing left to lose but his dignity and passion. According to the author's statements, this is his own least favorite work. It is, however, the novel in which his hometown of El Paso, Texas figures most prominently, and provides a valuable window into the personal impact of California's historic criminalization of homosexual behavior.

- The Vampires (Grove Press, 1971): In Vampires, the supernatural and the weaknesses and vices of human beings collide on a remote tropical island in which a group of people—Richard, the host; Tarah, his first wife; Lianne, his second wife; Karen, his third wife; Joja, his former mistress; his son; a midget named Topaze; a tattooed thug named Rev; Duquesa, a mystery woman in veils; a ravishing beauty named Savannah; Bravo, an actor in underground films; and a male prostitute, Blue; and others—are victimizers and victims in strange, evil rituals.

- The Fourth Angel (Viking, 1972): Three 16-year-old 'angels" recruit another, the same age, and together, they play wicked games with bums, deviants, and each other, mindful that, in the cold, hard world of The Fourth Angel, only the fittest—or cruelest—survive.

- The Sexual Outlaw (Grove Press, 1977) (non-fiction): The Sexual Outlaw is a non-fiction work on the devastating effects of homophobia. The book juxtaposes alternate chapters devoted to the author's sexual exploits on the one hand, and analysis of anti-homosexual laws and the effects of law enforcement's selective targeting of active homosexual populations on the other.

- Rushes (Grove Press, 1979): Rushes recounts the stories of the patrons of a gay bar on the waterfront of a large, anonymous city. Among the characters are a young heterosexual slumming, as it were, in the gay neighborhood, a young homosexual man on his first night out on the town, transvestite hookers, and seasoned gays seeking a quickie or a one-night stand. This book is largely considered a fair cross-generational tableau of Gay America's age-discriminated big city bar scene in its heyday—following the Christopher Street Rebellion, but immediately prior to the devastating first appearance of AIDS in the Gay community.

- Bodies and Souls (Carroll & Graf, 1983): Through vignettes of various characters, Rechy examines the seamy underside of modern Los Angeles in Bodies and Souls.

- Marilyn's Daughter (Carroll & Graf, 1988): At age 18, Normalyn discovers that she may be the daughter of Marilyn Monroe and Bobby Kennedy. She journeys to Hollywood to find out whether the rumor is true and learns the differences between Hollywood's fantasies and the complexities and demands of real life.

- The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez (Arcade, 1991): In seeing the huge silver cross in the blue sky over Hollywood, has Amalia Gómez seen a miracle? If so, God has chosen to enter her life just when she needs his help the most, for it is a life that is quickly falling apart.

- Our Lady of Babylon (Arcade, 1996)

- The Coming of the Night (Grove Press, 1999)

- The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens (Grove Press, 2003)

- Beneath the Skin (Carroll & Graf, 2004)

- About My Life and the Kept Woman (Grove Press, 2008) (memoir): Rechy's memoir.

Rechy is the author also of The Coming of the Night, The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens (a modern novel loosely inspired by Henry Fielding's The Adventures of Tom Jones). Rechy has also written essays that have been anthologized in Beneath the Skin and several plays, including Tigers Wild (first performed as The Fourth Angel), Rushes (based on his novel), and Momma As She Became—Not As She Was, a one-act play.

He has contributed essays and reviews to The Nation, the The New York Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times, L. A. Weekly, The Village Voice, The New York Times, and Saturday Review.

A biography, Outlaw: The Lives and Careers of John Rechy was written by Charles Casillo. A CD-Rom of his life and work was produced by the Annenberg Center of Communications and is titled: Mysteries and Desire: Searching the Worlds of John Rechy.

Rechy is the first novelist to receive PEN-USA-West's Lifetime Achievement Award (1997); he is the recipient of the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from The Publishing Triangle (1999) and an NEA fellow. He is a faculty member at the Master of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California. He is the first recipient of ONE Magazine Culture Hero Award.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rechy
What can I say, to me John Rechy was required reading to the gay world. I first read him in the early 60s, when I was hanging out in the sleazy world which Times Square was in those days. It was like he was my guiding angel, leading me through the streets which I followed readily. John Rechy was my ideal guide and I no longer cared of what might befall me. Many years have gone by, many other books have been read, a few have been written by myself, but John Rechy will remain what he always has been, a Beautiful Gay Man. Happy Birthday John, your life is sweet! --Mikola Dementiuk
As a Youngman Rechy Was My Role Model. Reading CITY OF NIGHT a year after it was published in the arms of my lover, both of us 20 and in redneck back-woods college isolation from anything supportive of gayness, this book became, and Rechy became, the model on which I built my life. In the early years he was my great teacher of how to be like a hustler which gave me social mobility to pass as "welcome" in any scene. I didn't actually charge money for sex, but I copped a pose of a hustler, and through this persona I lived out a gay life that would have otherwise gone repressed and shoved in a closet somewhere.
Blue jean pants and jacket, motorcycle, boots, cowboy or biker, I played the roles, went to the gyms and built a body like (now I'm talking about the real life influence of Rechy's personal history bearing fruit in my own life) to the gym and became a bodybuilder and super "PROUD TO BE GAY" in the bars of the French Quarter, as I played out the extreme script of his way. I never thought Rechy anything but a hero. Sexual Outlaw, for sure, but a man who lived freely in the sexual underground. The writings: CITY OF NIGHT, SEXUAL OUTLAW, NUMBERS, the whole opus! Fuel for my imagination. I became a gay activist, and yet I found no better eyes to see the world of Manhattan and the Duece through than John Rechy's. I wanted to write and did write all my life. I wrote the story again that John Rechy had written, only it was MY VERSION of the life lived freely as a sexual explorer in the night of many cities across this country. I documented it all. It's all in books and the major influence to guide me into writing was John Rechy. I had a chat relationship with one of his writing students on Prodigy when he was teaching in California, and his student was inflamed with the genius of Rechy, just to be near him was to catch on fire. He was so much more intelligent, more clever, purposeful, and deliberate than he let on. His casual approach to men and life was a pose by a master poet and symbolic writer. He lead me to read other gay writers and the list is way too long to put here, but Edmund White in FAREWELL SYMPHONY, Jean Genet in THE MIRACLE OF THE ROSE, and RECHY's CITY OF NIGHT inflamed me with a desire to write beautifully about male-male bonding, and the ways of being sexually alive and gay, free, at home in the night. Everyone thinks, "You'll be killed!" Yet John Rechy guides through the straights of dangerousness and leads to a light, a hope, a wonder. I caught "wonder" from Rechy.
His CITY OF NIGHT is in my hands and I am in the arms of my lover and it is 1965 and we are liberated by Rechy deep inside the hidden-most place in the USA. He was such a great liberator! I learned to love from reading how, from Rechy. --Roy Chaudoir
Further Readings:

The Coming of the Night by John Rechy
Series: Rechy, John
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (October 30, 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802137423
ISBN-13: 978-0802137425
Amazon: The Coming of the Night
Amazon Kindle: The Coming of the Night

John Rechy's new novel is a return to the themes and scenes of his classic, best-selling City of Night and a bittersweet memorial to a lost world -- gay Los Angeles in the moment before AIDS. It is 1981, a summer night, and an unscripted ritual is about to take place. Young, beautiful Jesse is celebrating one year on the dazzling gay scene and plans to lose himself completely in its transient pleasures. He is joined by Dave, a leatherman bent on testing limits. A young hustler, an opera lover lost in fantasies of youth, a gang of teenagers looking for trouble -- as the Santa Ana winds breathe fire down the hills of Los Angeles, stirring up desires and violence, these men circle ever closer to a confrontation as devastating as it is inevitable. Lyrical, humorous, and compassionate, The Coming of the Night proves again that as a novelist and chronicler of gay life John Rechy has no equal. "The question Rechy asks is still potent: Would you die for sex? Rechy's sizzling literary response, The Coming of Night is as exciting as it is chilling." -- Pamela Warrick, Los Angeles Times; "[Rechy] very nearly touches greatness . . . feeling his way toward that place within each of us where the ecstatic teeters on the edge of psychic abyss. . . . A substantial artist." -- Frank Browning, Salon.

More Spotlights at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Lists/Gay Novels

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