John Rechy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John Rechy
BornJohn Francisco Rechy
(1931-03-10) March 10, 1931 (age 90)
El Paso, Texas
OccupationNovelist, essayist
Alma materTexas Western College
Notable worksCity of Night
The Sexual Outlaw
The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez
Military career
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branch United States Army

John Francisco Rechy (born March 10, 1931) is an American novelist, essayist, memoirist, dramatist and literary critic. In his novels, he has written extensively about gay culture in Los Angeles and wider America, among other subject matter, and is among the pioneers of modern LGBT literature. City of Night, his debut novel published in 1963, was a best seller. Drawing on his own background, he has contributed to Chicano literature, notably with his novel The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez, which has been taught in several Chicano literature courses throughout the United States.


Rechy was born March 10, 1931 in El Paso, Texas.[1][2][3] He was the youngest of five children born to Guadalupe (née Flores) and Roberto Sixto Rechy.[4] Both of Rechy's parents were natives of Mexico; his father was of Scottish lineage.[2][5][6]

He earned a B.A. in English from Texas Western College (now University of Texas at El Paso), where he served as editor of the college newspaper.[4]

Following graduation from college, Rechy enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was granted early release from the Army to enroll as a graduate student at Columbia University.[7] He applied for admission to a creative writing class taught by novelist Pearl S. Buck by submitting an unpublished novel he had written titled Pablo! [8] While his application to Buck's class was not accepted, Rechy was admitted into the writing classes of Hiram Haydn, a senior editor at Random House, at the New School for Social Research.[8]

The Cooper Do-nuts Riot happened in 1959 in Los Angeles, when the lesbians, gay men, transgender people, and drag queens who hung out at Cooper Do-nuts and who were frequently harassed by the LAPD fought back after police arrested three people, including Rechy. Patrons began pelting the police with donuts and coffee cups. The LAPD called for back-up and arrested a number of rioters. Rechy and the other two original detainees were able to escape.[9] He later wrote about it in City of Night.

Literary career[edit]

Rechy's first published work, the largely autobiographical novel City of Night, debuted in October 1963. Despite the predominantly negative reviews the book received at the time of its publication, City of Night became an international bestseller.[4][10][11]

In addition to the dozen novels he has written to date, Rechy has contributed numerous essays and literary reviews to various publications including The Nation, The New York Review of Books, Los Angeles Times, L.A. Weekly, The Village Voice, The New York Times, Evergreen Review and Saturday Review.[4][5] Many of these writings were anthologized in his 2004 publication Beneath the Skin. He has written three plays, Tigers Wild (first performed as The Fourth Angel and based on Rechy's novel of that title), Rushes (based on his novel of the same title), and Momma as She Became—Not as She Was, a one-act play.[4]

Rechy was cited by journalist Amy Harmon in a 2004 New York Times article that reported about a computer glitch on that suddenly revealed the identities of thousands of people who had anonymously posted book reviews. It was revealed that Rechy, among several other authors, had "pseudonymously written themselves five-star reviews, Amazon's highest rating". Amazon stopped accepting anonymous reviews as a result of this finding.[12]

Awards, honors and recognition[edit]

Rechy is the first novelist to receive PEN-USA-West's Lifetime Achievement Award (1997); he is the recipient of the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from Publishing Triangle (1999)[7][13][14] and an NEA fellow. He is a faculty member at the Master of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California. He is the first recipient of ONE Magazine Culture Hero Award.[15]

In 2016, he won the first annual Los Angeles Review of Books/UCR Creative Writing Lifetime Achievement Award. [16]

At the 30th Lambda Literary Awards in 2018, he won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction for After the Blue Hour.[17]


Writers Michael Cunningham,[18] Kate Braverman, Sandra Tsing Loh, and Gina Nahai were students of Rechy's creative writing classes before becoming published authors.[11]

English pop artist David Hockney's painting Building, Pershing Square, Los Angeles was inspired by a passage in City of Night.[19]

The 1983 song "Numbers" by the English synth-pop duo Soft Cell was inspired by Rechy's 1967 novel of the same title.[20]

A CD-ROM of Rechy's life and work was produced by the Annenberg Center of Communications and is titled Mysteries and Desire: Searching the Worlds of John Rechy.[21]



  • City of Night (Grove Press, 1963)
  • Numbers (Grove Press, 1967)
  • This Day's Death (Grove Press, 1969)
  • The Vampires (Grove Press, 1971)
  • The Fourth Angel (Viking, 1972)
  • Rushes (Grove Press, 1979
  • Bodies and Souls (Carroll & Graf, 1983)
  • Marilyn's Daughter (Carroll & Graf, 1988)
  • The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez (Arcade, 1991)
  • Our Lady of Babylon (Arcade, 1996)
  • The Coming of the Night (Grove Press, 1999)
  • The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens (Grove Press, 2003)[22]
  • After the Blue Hour (Grove Press, 2017)
  • Pablo! (Arte Público Press, 2018)


  • The Sexual Outlaw (Grove Press, 1977)
  • Beneath the Skin (Carroll & Graf, 2004)
  • About My Life and the Kept Woman (Grove Press, 2008) (memoir)


  1. ^ "EL PASO COUNTY, TEXAS - BIRTHS 1931, N-R". USGenWeb Archives. Retrieved 18 April 2014. NOTE: Although many literary encyclopedias and biographies published in the 1960s through the 1990s list Rechy's year of birth as 1934, most such publications released since that period list the birth year as 1931. The latter is consistent with the year stated in the official Texas birth records, and Rechy himself has acknowledged 1931 as his birth year Archived 2014-04-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ a b White, Edmund (3 April 2008). "The Making of John Rechy". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  3. ^ Andrews-Katz, Eric (12 July 2013). "John Rechy: From bedsheets to printed sheets". Seattle Gay News. Archived from the original on 16 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e Wood, Jamie Martinez (2007). Latino Writers and Journalists: A to Z of Latino Americans. Infobase Publishing. pp. 192–93. ISBN 9781438107851.
  5. ^ a b Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series. Volume 6. Gale Research Company. 1982. pp. 408–412. ISBN 0-8103-1935-7.
  6. ^ Contemporary Authors. Autobiography Series. Volume 4. Gale Research Company. 1986. pp. 253–266. ISBN 0-8103-4503-X.
  7. ^ a b Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series. Volume 188. Gale Research Company. 2009. pp. 352–357. ISBN 978-1-4144-5669-0.
  8. ^ a b Barrios, Gregg (September 7, 1988). "Taming of the Sexual Outlaw : 25 Years After 'City of Night,' John Rechy Searches for a New Recognition With a Novel About Monroe". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  9. ^ Faderman, Lillian and Stuart Timmons (2006). Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians. Basic Books. pp. 1–2. ISBN 0-465-02288-X
  10. ^ Seed, David (2010). A Companion to Twentieth-Century United States Fiction. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 155–56. ISBN 9781444310115.
  11. ^ a b Timberg, Scott (April 5, 2000). "The Romantic Egotist". SF Weekly. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  12. ^ Harmon, Amy "Amazon Glitch Unmasks War of Reviewers", The New York Times, February 14, 2004. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  13. ^ "Awards". Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  14. ^ Warrick, Pamela (1997-10-26). "Credit Where It's Overdue; His writing began with controversy. Now John Rechy's life work is saluted". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  15. ^ "Culture Hero Award 2006—John Rechy". ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ "Lambda Literary awardees include Carmen Maria Machado, John Rechy, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor". Windy City Times, June 5, 2018.
  18. ^ Nelson, Steffie (17 February 2008). "John Rechy's intensified reality". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  19. ^ Drohojowska-Philp, Hunter (2011). Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s. Macmillan. p. 119. ISBN 9781429958998.
  20. ^ "Featured Song – Day 27". Polari Magazine. 27 February 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  21. ^ Candelaria, Cordelia Chávez; Garcâia, Peter J.; Aldama, Arturo J. (2004). Encyclopedia of Latino popular culture. 2. M - Z. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 667–69. ISBN 9780313332111.
  22. ^ Hall, J. S. (26 December 2003). "Rechy's big adventure". Washington Blade. Archived from the original on 3 January 2004.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]