City of Night (Rechy, John)

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Press:Grove Press Grove Press; Reissue edition (January 13, 1994)
Publication Date:1988-02
Author Name:John Rechy


John Rechy, recipient of the Publishing Triangle’s William Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award, wrote City of Night in 1963. 
This radical and daring work, which launched Rechy’s reputation as one of America’s most courageous novelists, remains the classic document of the garish neon-lit world of hustlers, drag queens, and men on the make who inhabited the homosexual underground of the early sixties.

From the Inside Flap

When John Rechy's explosive first novel--now a classic--appeared in 1963, it became a national best-seller and ushered in a new era of gay fiction. 
Bold and inventive in his account of the urban underworld of male prostitution, Rechy is equally unflinching in his portrayal of one hustling "youngman" and his search for self-knowledge within the neon-lit world of hustlers, drag queens, and men on every kind of make.
As the narrator moves from El Paso to Times Square, from Pershing Square to the French Quarter, we get an unforgettable look at life on the edge "One of the major books to be published since World War II."--The Washington Post "City of Night is a remarkable book....
Rechy writes in an authentic jive-like slang: the nightmare existence is explored with a clarity not often clouded by sentimentality and self-pity.
The book therefore has the unmistakable ring of candor and truth."--The New York Times Book Review "Rechy's tone rings absolutely true, is absolutely his own, and he has the kind of discipline which allows him a rare and beautiful recklessness.
tells the truth, and tells it with such passion that we are forced to share in the life he conveys.
This is a most humbling and liberating achievement."--James Baldwin "Probably no first novel is so complete, so well held together, and so important as City of Night."--The Houston Post "[City of Night] illuminates, it stirs the heart, it is unforgettable."--Herbert Gold John Rechy is the recipient of the PEN-USA West's Lifetime Achievement Award (he was the first novelist to be awarded the prize) and the Publishing Triangle's William Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award.
He is the author of eleven other novels, among them Numbers, Rushes, The Sexual Outlaw (all from Grove Press), The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez, and Our Lady of Babylon.
His most recent novel, The Coming of the Night, was published by Grove Press in 1999.
An NEA recipient, he is also the author of several plays, essays, and short stories.
John Rechy lives in Los Angeles.

About the Author

John Rechy is the author of twelve novels, among them the New York Times bestseller Numbers, the Los Angeles Times bestsellers Rushes and The Coming of the Night, as well as The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gómez and the nonfiction books The Sexual Outlaw and About My Life and the Kept Woman (all from Grove Press). 
He has received many awards, including PEN Center USA’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the William Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement.
He lives in Los Angeles


Gay & Lesbian,Literature & Fiction,Fiction,Gay,Literary,United States

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Comment List (Total:17)

  •     The first time I read "City of Night" was many years ago when it was first published. I was fascinated by the way Mr. Rechy describes the gay lifestyle in such real and vivid terms. I could not put the book down once I read the first page. I realized that Mr. Rechy was THE voice of the gay community, and a very talented and skilled man.I made the mistake of telling my friends about the book and they immmediately insisted that I allow them to borrow it. I suspect they were so taken with the book, they passed it along to someone else because I never got my book back! Each time I bought a new copy, the same thing happened! This is the eighth copy and it is not leaving my library! Over the years, I was also able to purchassed an autographed copy of the book, and it is kept in my safe deposit box.I doubt if another writer will ever be able to capture the essence and the rich characters of the gay life in America as did Mr. Rechy in this classic.
  •     Gay life has evolved so much since John Rechy took to the road as a young gay man and then recorded his hustling much is different yet for some of us so much remains the same: the pain, the loneliness, the desperation that people even today suffer as they deal with the consequences of their upbringing, their histories, their sexuality, their restlessness, While much of the book is, inevitably, "dated" as they say, the bare bones and essentials still tell a gripping story of our heritage, or at least the scarred underbelly of our heritage.Rechy's story is our story in many respects, and all our marriage rights, suburban acceptance and "normal lives" are in some crazy way built upon the whacked out and suffering lives of Rechy's characters who are based on real folks he encountered on his road.
  •     Even though Rechy is writing his hustler experiences in NYC and California in the 60s, and even though he is exposing a sexual underground few ever wrote of, he never describes body parts or sex acts explicitly, which is a wonder, because his book is more groundbreaking and controversial than any poen would ever be, but the time it appeared in history, often read in the 60s and 70s by young "partners" who otherwise never would have know how many other guys were like them, this book opened the door. This book also set the standard by which all the books to follow for decades had to deal with. Edmund White is more talented a lyrical writer, but Rechy is a man from the bowels of the real earth, and his words are fire and steel. This isn't a good book for someone who was a sexual addict to will come on light my fire-ah, too much. This is truly how it was in the scene in those days, no exaggeration, and the end of the book in New Orleans totally captures the angst of Mardi Gras and the tragic-comic malaise which infects all the revelers in the dark bars out of the sun, out of the mainstream. This is a book that is NUMBER ONE a must reading for any well read gay or bisexual person. It is history.The Sexual Outlaw: A Documentary (Rechy, John)NumbersThe Sexual Outlaw: A Documentary (Rechy, John)
  •     I keep buying copies of this book, reading them and then passing them on for others to read... great insight - good writing.
  •     A classic - well worth adding to yoru library!
  •     A gay lit classic! It's a riveting, sometimes upsetting look at an era that seems like ancient history, even though it was only a few years ago.
  •     Unique... Amazing that it was written so many years ago and I believe it would have such an amazing impact to anyone who reads it.
  •     Enjoyed both the tone and style. Subject matter not for everyone
  •     An interesting overview of the subculture at the time.
  •     I bought this book because of a write-up in Texas Monthly. If you are interested in Texas writers, Latino literature, or the Beats, get this book. We read many Beat writers in college but missed this book, probably because when I went to school at a Catholic university Gay themes were not something they wanted to discuss. Which is a shame because it's beautifully written and the book is not sexually explicit at all.It's challenging and a dense read. It will take time to get into, but it is well worth it.There is so much going on in this book that I wished I would have had people to discuss it with. So, get some friends to read it with you. If you are in a book club that would not be offended and likes to read more challenging books, read this book.
  •     So the writing in this book is amazing. I won't hit on that. I just couldn't get into the story. I would of never finished it had the writing not just been amazing.
  •     This book started off okay and I wanted to like it, but at some point, it got stuck on a character rambling on, and on, and on and just got so boring I couldn't spend another...
  •     Anyone who is gay today needs to know the back story of what it was like in the 1950s and 60s. No one tells that story better than the author of City of Night – John Rechy. There's a saying that: "if you remember the 60s you weren't really there."John Rechy WAS there and lived to write about it. If you read no other scene setting novel about being gay in the midcentury, read this one.
  •     This is his best book. The story is great and it; I would like to describe it as a dark, thoughtful story. As an older homosexual man, I lived some of these stories. Gay life is changing, or I have not lived it as a young man in many years (hahaha). It is the dark side of being homosexual, but reflets the the reality of gay life as I experienced it. In his second, book Numbers, he focuses on the changes in homosexual culture, but I am not sure it is as great as this book. I found many passages worth posting in Goodreads and on Facebook. He has a unique writing style in this book that makes it a good read. I will recommend the book to younger gay people, and others that want to understand something of homosexual life in the sixties and maybe early eighties. Be warned that this is about the life of a hustler, but in my experience, we were all a kind of hustler when I was a young homosexual guy. Gay sex, dancing and everything we take for granted today, were illegal. What we did was on the fringes of society. I actually miss this life, but only in a nostalgic way, like a soldier thinking of a war he survived.
  •     This book was apparently controversial when it was published in 1963. Of course, the whole idea of prostitution - especially gay prostitution - was scandalous then, and not openly discussed. Having said that, it was mildly surprising to find that there are no graphic depictions of sex anywhere (OK, I still have 25% of the book to go, but SO FAR...); the sex is merely hinted at in the vaguest possible way. This good, as it allows the reader to focus on the main issue - the narrator's internal struggle - as well as the fine writing. Coming out barely 5 years after "On The Road", Rechy's style certainly owes a debt to Kerouac, but not so much as to distract. And like "On The Road", this book seems (so far) to be more about the journey than the destination.
  •     For a literate look at part of the gay community in the 60s and 70s, this is an excellent read.
  •     Product as described. Fast, on-time delivery. Good people to do business with.

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