The cult classic novel from “one of the few major American writers whose life is as interesting, and meaningful, as his work” (Michael Cunningham).
When John Rechy’s explosive first book appeared in 1963, it marked a radical departure from all other stories of its kind, and gave voice to a subculture that had never before been revealed with such acuity. It earned comparisons to Jean Genet and Jack Kerouac, even as Rechy—who had based the novel on his own life—was personally attacked by scandalized reviewers. Nevertheless, City of Night became an international bestseller and ushered in a new era of fiction. More than fifty years later, it remains a classic.
Bold and inventive in style, Rechy is unflinching in his portrayal of one anonymous “youngman” and his search for self-knowledge and love within a furtive, neon-lit world of male hustlers, drag queens, closeted cops, and fetishists. As the narrator moves from El Paso to Times Square, from Pershing Square to the French Quarter, and through the lives of an extraordinary collection of characters who dwell in this clandestine world, Rechy delivers a portrait of the edges of America that has lost none of its power to move and exhilarate.
“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. This is a most humbling and liberating achievement.” —James Baldwin