Rushes by John Rechy
(Rechy, John)

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Once again, John Rechy takes us to an unexplored part of our world in Rushes, his first book following the controversial bestseller, The Sexual Outlaw.

The story develops during a single evening and is set in a “leather and Western” bar located near the decaying and deserted waterfront of a large American city. This is the sexual battlefield, the world of the trucks, the piers, the warehouses. And Rechy explores it with a compelling, dramatic story told in a style that is elegant, convincing, and unsparing.

Into the bar arrives a range of characters: the regular patrons in their ceaseless search for compatible love, the occasional customer hoping for a quick sexual fix, the female and transvestite hookers who work the dark streets outside, the couple seeking a voyeuristic experience, the young man venturing out for the first time.

During the course of the evening we come to know these people, their loneliness and their fears, their pride and their courage. We share with them their search and their discoveries. Rechy has distilled from these lives a human experience that is moving, painful, and revealing.

The evening culminates with one of the most shattering scenes in recent fiction. The central character, around whom most

About John Rechy

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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 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.
Published December 1, 2007 by Grove Press. 228 pages
Genres: Gay & Lesbian, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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