John Updike is routinely identified in book-review journals
as a "self-avowed heterosexual," I won't mind being
identified as a "self-avowed" homosexual," although
I don't remember having taken a vow about sexuality, whereas
I suspect John Updike may have done just that."
Once again, John Rechy takes us to an unexplored part of our world.
The story develops during a single evening and is set in a
"leather and Western" bar located near the decaying and deserted waterfront of a
large American city. This is the sexual battlefield, the world of the trucks, the piers,
the warehouses. And Rechy explores it with a compelling, dramatic story told in a style
that is elegant, convincing and unsparing.
Into the bar arrives a range of characters: the regular patrons in
their ceaseless search for compatible love, the occasional customer hoping for a quick
sexual fix, the female and transvestite hookers who work the dark streets outside, the
couple seeking a voyeuristic experience, the young man venturing out for the first time.
During the course of the evening we come to know these people,
their loneliness and fears, their pride and their courage. We share with them their search
and their discoveries. Rechy has distilled from these lives a human experience that is
moving, painful and revealing.
The evening culminates with one of the most shattering and
powerful scenes in recent fiction. The central character, around whom most of the
evening's activities have revolved, leaves the bar at closing time and goes to a
sadomasochistic orgy room. This descent into the depths of a sexual underworld fulfills
the ceremonial structure of this artfully conceived work. The almost religious rites of
the evening end in a ritual sacrifice.
In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.
As often as he comes to the Rushes, Endore still feels a clash of excitement and
dread in anticipation of the sights, sounds, odors he knows will assault him. The
astonishing array of cowboys, motorcyclists, construction workers, policemen, lumberjacks,
military- uniformed men will cluster intimately within the red darkness.
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