Understanding John Rechy
115 pages

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115 pages

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In this first book-length monograph on the Mexican American novelist, essayist, and playwright John Rechy, best known for his debut novel City of Night, María DeGuzmán offers a conceptually clear yet aesthetically, philosophically, and socio-politically fine-grained analysis of the spectrum of his writing. Recipient of PEN Center USA's Lifetime Achievement Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, ONE Magazine's National Gay and Lesbian Cultural Hero Award, the William Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Luis Leal Award for Excellence in Chicano/Latino Literature, and the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement, Rechy is the author of fifteen novels, at least three plays, and several volumes of nonfiction. He has written for the Nation, the New York Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice, the New York Times, and Saturday Review.

In Understanding John Rechy, María DeGuzmán offers a brief biographical overview and then traces the development of Rechy's craft through his major works by calling attention to central issues, recurring situations and characters, styles, and special techniques. She examines the complexities of his representation of identity, the subjectivity in his male homosexual odyssey and identity quest novels, and his experimentation with genre. She offers a concise yet intricate analysis of the major organizing paradigms and themes, genres, modes, styles, and handling of the gay Chicano's oeuvre. The book's guiding analysis pays particular attention to the ways in which Rechy's works function as cultural critique challenging mainstream values in a deep-structure manner.



Publié par
Date de parution 19 septembre 2019
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781643360072
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,2100€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Matthew J. Bruccoli, Founding Editor
Linda Wagner-Martin, Series Editor
Also of Interest
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Understanding Edmund White , Nicholas F. Radel
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Understanding Francisco Goldman , Ariana E. Vigil
Understanding Gerald Vizenor , Deborah L. Madsen
Understanding Jack Kerouac , Matt Theado
Understanding Larry McMurtry , Steven Frye
Understanding Nicholson Baker , Arthur Saltzman
Understanding Randall Kenan , James A. Crank
Understanding Truman Capote , Thomas Fahy
Mar a DeGuzm n
2019 University of South Carolina
Published by the University of South Carolina Press
Columbia, South Carolina 29208
28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data can be found at http://catalog.loc.gov/
ISBN 978-1-64336-006-5 (hardback)
ISBN 978-1-64336-007-2 (ebook)
Front cover photograph: Tony Korody/Sygma courtesy of Getty Images
For my students and in memory of my parents-to the manifold of life and art
Series Editor s Preface
Chapter 1
Understanding John Rechy
Chapter 2
Male Homosexual Odysseys as Cultural Critique: City of Night, Numbers, This Day s Death , and The Coming of the Night
Chapter 3
True Fictions: The Sexual Outlaw and After the Blue Hour
Chapter 4
Intermedia-The Novels as Theater, Film, and Other Experiments: The Vampires, The Fourth Angel, Rushes , and Bodies and Souls
Chapter 5
The Women-Centered and Chicana Feminist Novels and the Memoir: Marilyn s Daughter, The Miraculous Day of Amalia G mez, Our Lady of Babylon , and About My Life and the Kept Woman
Chapter 6
The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens and Musicophilia
The Understanding Contemporary American Literature series was founded by the estimable Matthew J. Bruccoli (1931-2008), who envisioned these volumes as guides or companions for students as well as good nonacademic readers, a legacy that will continue as new volumes are developed to fill in gaps among the nearly one hundred series volumes published to date and to embrace a host of new writers only now making their marks on our literature.
As Professor Bruccoli explained in his preface to the volumes he edited, because much influential contemporary literature makes special demands, the word understanding in the titles was chosen deliberately. Many willing readers lack an adequate understanding of how contemporary literature works; that is, of what the author is attempting to express and the means by which it is conveyed. Aimed at fostering this understanding of good literature and good writers, the criticism and analysis in the series provide instruction in how to read certain contemporary writers-explicating their material, language, structures, themes, and perspectives-and facilitate a more profitable experience of the works under discussion.
In the twenty-first century Professor Bruccoli s prescience gives us an avenue to publish expert critiques of significant contemporary American writing. The series continues to map the literary landscape and to provide both instruction and enjoyment. Future volumes will seek to introduce new voices alongside canonized favorites, to chronicle the changing literature of our times, and to remain, as Professor Bruccoli conceived, contemporary in the best sense of the word.
Linda Wagner-Martin, Series Editor
John Rechy-El Paso, Texas-born novelist, essayist, memoirist, dramatist, and literary critic of Mexican and Scottish descent-published his debut novel City of Night in 1963. This controversial first novel remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 25 weeks, was translated into more than a dozen languages, become an international bestseller, and is widely recognized as a great American novel and a modern classic. 1 Rechy has gone on to publish fourteen more novels (one of them classified as a documentary and not always recognized as a novel), one memoir, and a collection of forty-five essays as well as write at least three plays, one feeding into a novel and two of them based on already existing novels. 2 He is still writing from his home in Los Angeles. His work has had wide cultural impact, especially on other artists-photographers; filmmakers such as Gus Van Sant; painters such as David Hockney; and in particular musicians and songwriters such as Jim Morrison (and the U.S. rock band the Doors more generally), Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Lou Reed, and the Velvet Underground. One of the most well-known homages to Rechy s impact is the sixth studio album of the Doors, titled L.A. Woman and released in April 1971. The lyrics to the title track song L.A. Woman contain direct, subversive references to Rechy s first novel: Are you a lucky lady in the City of Light / Or just another lost angel? / City of Night, City of Night / City of Night, City of Night, woo, c mon. 3 Rechy s work was appreciated first by other artists and, as the references in popular songs attest, both he and his work went on to acquire legendary status, especially his first novel, whose standing continues to develop as more information about its many admirers comes to light-such as the novel s inclusion in the late singer, songwriter, and actor David Bowie s 2013 tally of the top 100 books. 4
With the exception of a short but very insightful piece published in 1979 on Odysseus in John Rechy s City of Night by Carlos Zamora (who served as the first chairperson of the University of California, Santa Barbara s Department of Chicana/o Studies, established in 1970 and the first such department in the United States) and a few other late 1970s, early 1980s articles on Rechy s sexual undergrounds, most official, critical recognition for Rechy s work came later, much of it in the 1990s onwards with the rise of Chicana/o Latina/o studies and queer studies, and their intersection in the academy. 5 A number of scholars (myself included) within or working across these categories have written chapters, chapter sections, and/or articles on various aspects of his work, among them Frederick Luis Aldama, Juan Bruce-Novoa, Debra Castillo, David William Foster, Carl Guti rrez-Jones, Ricardo Ort z, Rafael P rez-Torres, and Jos David Sald var. 6 In 1997 Rechy was the recipient of the PEN Center USA-West s prestigious lifetime achievement award, the first novelist to be so honored. 7 In 1999 he received the William Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award from Publishing Triangle at the New School in New York. The award announcement described Rechy as one of the most heroic figures in contemporary American life a touchstone of moral integrity and artistic innovation (Casillo, 293). In 2006 he was the first recipient of ONE Magazine s National Gay and Lesbian Culture Hero Award, named after the first U.S. pro-gay publication, which itself was established in January 1953. 8 In the fall of 2007 Rechy was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Texas at El Paso. 9 In October 2013 the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center presented a program with Rechy, H ctor Calder n (professor of Spanish and Portuguese), David L. Ulin ( Los Angeles Times book critic), and John Densmore (drummer for the rock band the Doors) to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the 1963 publication of City of Night . In 2014, at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Rechy was awarded the Luis Leal Literature Award for Distinction in Chicano / Latino Literature. The University of Alcal de Henares in Spain assembled a 2015 volume of testimonies to the cultural and personal impact of Rechy s work titled The Textual Outlaw: Reading John Rechy in the 21st Century , published through the Biblioteca Benjamin Franklin. On April 20, 2018 Rechy received the 2017 Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement. 10 This award recognizes a writer whose work focuses on the American West. In recognition of his talents as a writer and a teacher of writing, Rechy has been granted teaching gigs at Occidental College, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and the University of Southern California s Dornsife Master of Professional Writing Program where, as of summer 2017, he was still teaching writing in addition to literature and film courses.
However, despite these recognitions, Rechy s legendary persona as an outspoken gay man who writes about himself as a sexual outlaw, a rough-trade hustler, and a bodybuilder has continued to overshadow the depth, complexity, variety, and sheer artistry of his works. This eclipsing is ironic given that, in his daily life, Rechy strove to keep those identities separate-not from his readers, but from other hustlers and especially from his clients, many of whom wanted to believe that they were with a tough but not smart man. 11 Furthermore, Rechy s focus on hustling and homosexuality in a significant portion of his works, beginning, most notably, with his 1963 City of Night , called readers and critics attention to them, but also subjected his works to censorship and marginalization, including exclusion from high school library bookshelves and, sometimes, from college-level literature courses. Consequently, students are not exposed to his works in the way that they are exposed to presumably safer authors and subject matter.
Moreover, the name John Rechy contains no clue to the author s Mexican American and/or Latina/o heritage or to the ways in which almost every work of hi

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