The Coming of the Night by John Rechy
(Rechy, John)

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Synopsis

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.
 

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. 259 pages
Genres: Gay & Lesbian, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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In a return to some of the themes of his first novel, the gay classic City of Night (1963), Rechy follows an ensemble cast of mainly gay characters over the course of one day in 1981 Los Angeles, just

Aug 02 1999 | Read Full Review of The Coming of the Night (Rech...

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