December 2003: The Los Angeles Times calls "The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens" "Best of the Best" and lists it as one of the 10 best works of fiction in 2003!   click for more details

"The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens" is now available in paperback.

From the author of the classic City of Night comes a captivating, wickedly entertaining novel in which an irrepressible young hero is set loose in the religious-fundamentalist world of Texas, the gambling palaces of Las Vegas, and the enticing mythos of Los Angeles.

     The internationally renowned novelist recently described by Gore Vidal as “one of the few original writers of the last century” re-creates himself yet again with a witty bildungsroman that pays homage to the classic eighteenth-century picaresque. Loosely inspired by Fielding’s Tom Jones, it sends the charming, handsome Lyle Clemens on an adventure from fundamentalist Texas to the contemporary wilderness of Los Angeles.

     Raised in Texas, the son of a Miss America aspirant and an unknown father, Lyle Clemens approaches adulthood and notices that everyone wants him to be something he’s not. His beautiful mother wants to make him into the cowboy who abandoned her; a group of avaricious fundamentalists plot to convert him into “the Lord’s Cowboy”; and the lovely Maria wants him to fulfill her varying fantasies of “true love.” When Lyle leaves home to make his own destiny, he encounters a gallery of charlatans and wistful souls, quirky gamblers, dreamy showgirls, wily pornographers, and fake magicians; and is seduced into an aging starlet’s mad comeback scheme during a rambunctious Academy Awards ceremony. Through it all, Lyle becomes himself. The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens is a hilarious, bittersweet, and wise book that establishes once again John Rechy’s great storytelling gifts.

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Critical Praise:

"Taking Henry Fielding's Tom Jones as its model ...this raucous, hormone-fueled bildungsroman takes its hero through the tabloid underbelly of America."--Library Journal.

"[An] ambitious and very funny novel . . . It's a tall tale, a simultaneously sweet and vicious satire of contemporary America . . . This distinctly American novel is ultimately about the search for love and redemption, about the ideal of 'amazing grace' from the old song that serves as a touchstone for Lyle. It's a comic tour de force and, at the same time, a truly heartfelt book." --Publishers Weekly
(Click to read the complete review)

"[John Rechy] is best known for his depiction of raw and shocking sexuality and yet best loved by some readers for his expression of a passion so sublime that it approaches a state of rapture...This remarkable story, as Rechy tells it, is sly, smart, sexy and laugh-out-loud funny, but it is also tinged with sorrow and ultimately elevated into the realm of magic" --The Los Angeles Times Book Review
(Click to read the complete review)

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