City of Night by John Rechy   
youngmen goes with men for money but with women to prove his masculinity intact; the bedridden Professor, author of many books, for whom the only book that matters is the scrapbook of the Angels he has collected through the years in many countries; Miss Destiny, the queen of them all, with his-her endless succession of faithless husbands; Sergeant Morgan, the terror of Pershing Square, the cop who cracks down hard on the gay scene but has tried more than once to make it with those he arrests; "Mom" the New Yorker whose fetish is cooking for the male hustlers he takes home and undresses; Skipper, A Very Beautiful Boy, once beloved of one of Hollywood's top directors, who now carries his yellowed pictures and clippings in an often-renewed envelope; Lance O'Hara, not long ago the most sought-after star in the Hollywood heaven, now openly pursuing a youngman a decade or two his junior, and groveling to get him; Neil and his world of masquerade.

Rechy describes this world with brutal candor, with an understanding but without sentimentality or self-pity, in a prose that is highly personal, vivid and boldly descriptive.

 

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"[Rechy's] tone rings absolutely true, is absolutely his own, and he has the kind of discipline which allows him a rare and beautiful recklessness....He tells the truth, and tells it with such passion that we are forced to share in the life he conveys. It is the most humbling and liberating experience."
--James Baldwin

"City of Night is one of the most remarkable novels to appear in years...It illuminates, it stirs the heart, it is unforgettable."
--Herbert Gold

"Probably no novel published in this decade is so complete, so well held together, and so important as City of Night."
--Larry McMurtry

"John Rechy shows great comic and tragic talent. He is a truly gifted novelist."
--Christopher Isherwood

"Mr. Rechy does a convincing job of showing the grubby, lonely, nearly psychotic underside of...life."
--The New York Times

 

Later I would think of America as one vast city of night.....


"City of Night began as a letter to a friend of mine after I had been to New Orleans. I wrote City of Night because they were my experiences hustling, and it began as a letter. I didn't think of it as a book."

John Rechy
Bachy 17
Spring 1980

"But it should begin in El Paso, that journey through the cities of night. Should begin in El Paso, in Texas. And it begins in the Wind..."

from City of Night

This is a novel about America. It is a novel about loneliness, about love and the ceaseless, furtive search for love. Set in the seamy, neon-lighted world of honky-tonk USA--Times Square in New York, Pershing Square in Los Angeles, Hollywood Boulevard, and the French Quarter of New Orleans--and dealing with a little-known world of hidden sex, City of Night represents a radical departure from all other novels of this kind. It is not lurid or defensive; it treats its subject squarely and forthrightly, revealing many facets of this subculture in a way they had never been revealed before when the novel was published in 1963, even in the novels of Jean Genet.

It is a journey by a nameless narrator, through this clandestine world of furtive love. His journey takes him through the major cities of the United States, and through the lives of an extraordinary collection of characters who dwell either in this world or on its fringes: Pete, the "youngman"--or male hustler--at 42nd Street, who like the other