Outlaw: John Rechy / Edition 1

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Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. 2002 Soft cover New. No Jacket Soft Cover. No Jacket. new book, life stories.

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Overview

When John Rechy’s City of Night first appeared in 1963, it was greeted with equal parts fanfare and horror. The unapologetically sexual story of a young gay hustler shocked readers with its frank treatment of a subject most knew about but chose to pretend did not exist. Yet more shocking was Rechy’s revelation that the book was largely autobiographical. For a street hustler to reach literary fame and widespread acclaim was unheard-of, especially if he was gay. Rechy continued to publish explosive novels, including Numbers, The Sexual Outlaw, and Rushes—even as he continued hustling seedy Hollywood Boulevard—and soon became an integral part of the new literary elite that included Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, and Christopher Isherwood. In this enlightening biography, Charles Casillo provides an absorbing picture of the outlaw writer, examining the dichotomy of Rechy’s life as both a respected author and professor and a tough-as-nails sex worker. Working closely with Rechy himself as well as his family, friends, admirers, and colleagues, Casillo presents a complex portrait of a man who found sexual liberation through prostitution and used it to create a vivid and influential artistic legacy.

The work of John Rechy: Bodies and Souls, City of Night, Coming of the Night, The Fourth Angel, Marilyn’s Daughters, Numbers, Our Lady of Babylon, Rushes, The Sexual Outlaw, and The Vampires.

Charles Casillo is a Los Angeles–based freelance writer. He is the author of The Marilyn Diaries, a novel about Marilyn Monroe.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
John Rechy's 1963 debut, City of Night, a thinly fictionalized account of his adventures in male hustling from one end of the country to the other, was a milestone in American gay literature. But even as Rechy, who had grown up in the Mexican slums of El Paso, Tex., became a literary darling, he continued having sex for money and went to great lengths to keep his two worlds separate. This biography by L.A.-based journalist and novelist Casillo (The Marilyn Diaries), written with extensive cooperation from his subject, is most engrossing when it focuses on the years immediately before and after that initial success, when Rechy was constantly testing his personal and creative limits. As he makes the transition from dazzling young writer to literary icon, the anecdotes become much less interesting. Casillo doesn't delve much into the psychological aspects of Rechy's sexuality beyond hinting at the possibility of childhood sexual abuse by his domineering father, and while some might look at Rechy's behavior as a pattern of sexual addiction, the biography merely ventures that one novel, depicting the author's quest to seduce 30 men in quick succession, indicates an "excessive attachment to sex." Given the raw, primal quality of the frequent excerpts from Rechy's fiction, it's disappointing that the biographer's prose can't rise to the occasion; clich s like "one of those budding sexual experiences when the universe conspires with you and everything falls into place" are all too common. This respectful life story will confirm Rechy's status among literary critics and will undoubtedly reintroduce him to a new generation of gay readers, but it lacks the oomph for mainstream success. (Dec.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
It may be a clich to say an author has lived a life as colorful as any of his characters, but that is true of John Rechy if anyone. Born in the barrios of Depression-era El Paso, TX, he escaped his hardscrabble roots via intelligence and physical beauty, hiding his delicate sensibilities behind the macho facade of a tough street hustler. He eventually turned his demimonde experiences into provocative prose in a series of novels beginning with City of Night (1963). The transition from male prostitute to respected author and teacher, however, was uneasy, as he continued to sell his body on the streets while chastely hobnobbing with celebrities like Christopher Isherwood and Liberace. Rechy's story virtually writes itself, and Casillo (The Marilyn Diaries) wisely lets it do so, remaining sympathetic but not sycophantic as he adeptly conveys the schizoid quality of Rechy's life. Bolstered by excerpts from Rechy's works, with some tantalizing glimpses of his unpublished writings, this biography should pique interest in both the writer and his work and is highly recommended, especially for libraries with strong gay and lesbian literary collections.-Richard J. Violette, Special Libs. Cataloguing Inc., Victoria, B.C. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555837341
  • Publisher: Alyson Books
  • Publication date: 12/1/2002
  • Series: An Advocate Books Life Story Series
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Casillo is the author of the novel The Marilyn Diaries and the biography Outlaw: The Lives and Careers of John Rechy. His writing has appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, New York magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. He
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2003

    FOR SALE ANY ONE...

    HE IS FOR SALE AND WHAT A FACE IS THAT IT.LETS TALK .HE IS A GOOD WRITER ,AND CHARLES CASILLO. THANKS FOR YOUR PUT GREAT WRITERING.THANKS FOR A JOURNEY ON THE STREETS.LOVE IT .

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2003

    Man of a thousand lives

    The story of a hustler who was also a great writer. A tough male prostitute who also had a tremendous sensitivity and tender love for his mother. A man who was a total narcisist but had the ability to be a giving teacher. All of these "lives" of John Rechy are carefully explored and masterfully expressed by biographer, Casillo who shows a writing skill equal to his subject.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2003

    Outlaw: John Rechy

    I have been a fan of John Rechy's since I read City of Night when it first came out and I thought it was really shocking but excellent. Through the years I have followed his career and his books have continued to enthrall me. Charles Casillo's biography is a behind the scenes look at some of Rechy's novels and also tells some really interesting things about his life. It seems that Rechy's incredible life has been fuel enough to ignite his work to the level of genius. I recommend this biography and I also suggest that readers take a look at all of Rechy's novels.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2002

    Outlaw: John Rechy

    HE IS NOT IS ONE SELF LIFE AT ITS BEST,LOVE THIS BOOK CHARLES CASLLIO IS A REAL TRUE WRITER ,HE BRINGS LIFE LIKE IT IS, TRUE...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2002

    Outlaw: John Rechy

    ITS A GREAT READ LOVE IT HIS JOURNEY HAS BEEN OUTSTANDING WHAT A STORY,LOVE IT .

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2002

    Outlaw: John Rechy

    Shocking, disturbing, moving--always fascinating--John Rechy seems to have been through enough experiences to fill several lives. It¿s amazing to me that Rechy was a respected and talented author and professor who, during the same period of time, was hustling the streets as a male prostitute. I was totally fascinated by Charles Casillo¿s excellent biography. It would be easy for a writer to tell Mr. Rechy¿s story in a lurid and exploitive way (like some of Rechy`s books). Instead Mr. Casillo tells the story with taste and respect. By treating his subject with the compassion and dignity he deserves Mr. Casillo achieves an enthralling portrayal of a man who was a compelling mass of contradictions.

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