Picture of author.

John Rechy

Author of City of Night

28+ Works 2,482 Members 24 Reviews 8 Favorited

About the Author

Rechy is an important gay writer also linked to the Beat Movement, whose work has been recognized by a number of prestigious grant nominations or awards, including one from the National Endowment for the Arts. He grew up in El Paso, Texas, in a poor, Mexican American family. Because of his poverty show more and his ethnic heritage, he learned very early in life to feel himself an outsider, which was intensified by his later experiences as a gay hustler traveling America in search of his social and sexual identity. He came to popular and critical attention with his first published novel, City of Night (1963), which was a bestseller and was nominated for the International Prix Formentor. A fictionalized account of his travels, the novel focuses on the people whom the unnamed narrator encounters on the hustling scene in a number of cities, including New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Together, these cities make up the titular "city of night," or, as Rechy writes, "the city of night of the soul." A state of mind rather than a particular place, this "city"---modern America---is where hypocrisy and homophobia are reconciled with the fact of homosexuality in various forms, and poverty may be more spiritual than material. The book owes something to two classics: Jack Kerouac's Beat novel, On the Road, which celebrates countercultural alternatives to middle-class culture and lifestyles, including bourgeois marriage and family life, and Djuna Barnes's modernist novel Nightwood, which explores a tragic gay "nightworld" as a symbol of the modern urban wasteland. Rechy addresses similar themes in a later work that is equally well known, The Sexual Outlaw (1977), which he has described as an experiment with the novel form. Ostensibly a documentary of the life of a gay man, the book is also a critique of American values and morality. Commentaries throughout the text are really journalistic essays that expose the double standards and double binds of a "closeted" culture, in which many fear to be openly gay because of homophobic reprisals. Rechy has suggested that all of his work (which includes plays, essays, and reviews, as well as novels) articulates the need to preserve gay "difference," which he associates with "abundant sexuality," in the face of increasing "heterofascism." (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Includes the names: J. Rechy, RECHY JOHN

Image credit: from author's website

Works by John Rechy

City of Night (1963) 1,032 copies, 9 reviews
Numbers (1966) 228 copies, 3 reviews
Rushes (1979) 140 copies, 1 review
The Coming of the Night (1999) 109 copies
Bodies and Souls (1983) 101 copies
The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez (1991) 98 copies, 3 reviews
The Fourth Angel (1972) 74 copies, 1 review
The Vampires (1971) 64 copies
About My Life and the Kept Woman: A Memoir (2008) 61 copies, 2 reviews
The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens (2003) 55 copies, 1 review
Beneath the Skin: The Collected Essays (2004) 52 copies, 1 review
This Day's Death (1969) 49 copies
After the Blue Hour (2017) 39 copies, 1 review
Marilyn's Daughter (1988) 33 copies

Associated Works

The Stonewall Reader (2019) — Contributor — 362 copies, 8 reviews
Men on Men 4: Best New Gay Fiction (1990) — Contributor — 199 copies, 2 reviews
The Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature (1998) — Contributor — 161 copies
Gay Sunshine Interviews. Vol. 1 (1978) — Interviewee — 63 copies
The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (2010) — Contributor — 59 copies
New American Story (1962) — Contributor — 48 copies
Big Table 3 (1959) — Contributor — 6 copies


1960s (13) 20th century (21) American (16) American fiction (13) American literature (44) autobiography (11) biography (17) California (17) erotica (29) essays (11) fiction (330) first edition (10) gay (196) gay fiction (67) gay literature (14) gay male (12) gay men (46) Gay men > Fiction (37) glbt (17) homosexuality (23) hustling (11) John Rechy (18) Latinx (20) lgbt (30) LGBTQ (19) literature (45) Los Angeles (38) memoir (23) New Orleans (18) non-fiction (19) novel (75) prostitution (32) queer (24) Rechy (10) sex (26) sexuality (31) signed (20) to-read (103) US (12) USA (25)

Common Knowledge



This is the story of a young man who works as a hustler and travels across the nation (Rechy refers to hustlers as "youngmen"). The book is divided into chapters about the places the young man travels to and the people he meets there; these places include New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New Orleans. It is a visceral and sometimes raw story with a realism that is impressive.
jwhenderson | 8 other reviews | Apr 29, 2024 |
I did not enjoy reading this book, so I stopped at 21% through it. It's difficult to say anything good about it.
BrianEWilliams | Nov 30, 2022 |
This is the first novel John Rechy published, based on his life as a hustler. Not one city--adventures take place in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and New Orleans--but the hustling scene of masculine hustlers, queens, scores and vice cops is similar in all these places. The protagonist is torn between the world of education, career and writing, which he has worked to gain admittance to, and the attractions of confirming his desirability in the simplest possible fashion: being paid for access to his body.… (more)
1 vote
ritaer | 8 other reviews | Mar 15, 2018 |
I have been reading this book in tandem with _City of the Night_, one of the novels Rechy based on parts of his life described in this book, which was written later. In both works one can see the extreme role-playing of the gay lifestyle in the 50s and 60s, the fear of arrest or exposure, and the denial and self-hatred. Rechy spent years centering his identity on his sexual desirability, his ability to attract men willing to pay him for fleeting, non-reciprocated sex. In the hustling world he had to conceal his intellect and deny that he was attracted to men. His descriptions of interactions regarding his writing are reminiscent of the pitfalls surrounding women with talent-- as he avoids the 'casting couch' and insists on having his work accepted for it's own sake. The kept woman of the tile was a figure from his childhood: the older sister of Rechy's younger sister's husband, who had defied her father's wrath to attend the wedding. The young Rechy saw the woman, mysterious and veiled, and heard her referred to as 'the kept woman' of a powerful and wealthy man in Mexico. She becomes s symbol for him of someone who lives her life in defiance of conventional morality. Another memory from his youth is a young woman whom he had dated briefly, who remakes herself by taking another name and leaving El Paso. She successfully poses as Spanish and marries a prominent San Franciscan. Many of the people mentioned are given fake names, as most were not out of the closet. Others, such as Christopher Isherwood and Allen Ginsberg are named. It is interesting to note that open rebellion against police abuses was sporadic in LA long before the Stonewall riot.… (more)
ritaer | 1 other review | Mar 14, 2018 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by
½ 3.7

Charts & Graphs