City of Night

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This article is about John Rechy's 1963 novel. For the 2005 book, see City of Night (Koontz and Gorman novel).
City of Night
CityofNightRechy.jpg
First edition cover
Author John Rechy
Cover artist Richard Seaver[1]
Country United States
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher Grove Press, Inc., N.Y.
Publication date
1963
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 410 pp

City of Night is a novel written by John Rechy. It was originally published in 1963 in New York by Grove Press. Earlier excerpts had appeared in Evergreen Review, Big Table, Nugget, and The London Magazine.

City of Night is notable for its exposé approach to and stark depiction of hustling, as well as its stream of consciousness narrative style.

Plot summary[edit]

Set in the 1960s, the book follows the travels of a young man (Rechy uses the term “youngman” when referring to hustlers) across the country while working as a hustler. The book focuses chapters on locations that the boy visits and certain personages he meets there, from New York City, to Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Orleans. Throughout the novel, the unnamed narrator has trysts with various peculiar characters, including another hustler, an older man, an S&M enthusiast and a bed-ridden old man. All of these relationships range in the extent of their emotional and sexual nature, as well as in their peculiarity.

Reception and influences[edit]

The narrator shares many characteristics, including his ethnicity and relative age, with the author at the time. The author uses curious methods to achieve verisimilitude, for instance, omitting the apostrophe in contractions, in order to recreate the speech of characters who are barely literate.

Pornographer David Hurles wrote that "Rechy's story set me free... His story told me of a world I had only hoped might really exist. The effect was visceral, sexy, fightening, and it made my spirit soar. In 1965 this book helped lure me to California."[2]

The book has been noted as an influence by The Doors. A curious object of note is the reference to “City of Night” in the song "L.A. Woman". The Los Angeles based portion of the book relies heavily on characters who are drag queens and transgender, which would seem to leave the object of the song as sexually ambiguous.

City of Night inspired film director Gus Van Sant to write the screenplay for My Own Private Idaho.

City of Night was ranked number 22 on a list of the best 100 gay and lesbian novels compiled by The Publishing Triangle in 1999.[3]

Footnotes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Bronski, Michael (2003). Pulp Friction: Uncovering the Golden Age of Gay Male Pulps (1st ed. ed.). New York, NY: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0-312-25267-0. 
  • Gunn, Drewey (2009). The Golden Age of Gay Fiction (1st ed.). Albion, NY: MLR Press. ISBN 978-1-60820-048-1. 
  • Sarotte, Georges-Michel (1978). Like a Brother, Like a Lover: Male Homosexuality in the American Novel and Theatre from Herman Melville to James Baldwin (1st English ed.). New York: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-12765-3. 
  • Slide, Anthony (2003). Lost Gay Novels: A Reference Guide to Fifty Works from the First Half of the Twentieth Century (1st ed. ed.). Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press. ISBN 978-1-56023-413-5. 

External links[edit]