"One of the few original American writers of the last century." - Gore Vidal
JOHN RECHY is the recipient
of two coveted Lifetime Achievement Awards: PEN-USA-Wests 1997 Lifetime Achievement
Award and The Publishing Triangles William Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement.
In September 2000, a CD-Rom of his life and works--"Memories and
Desire: The Worlds of John Rechy" (produced through the Annenberg Center
at the University of Southern California)--debuted at the Museum of Modern
Art in Los Angeles to an overflow crowd. Last August, Rechy's eagerly
awaited novel The Coming of the Night was published by
Grove/Atlantic and appeared as # 2 on the Los Angeles Time's Bestseller
List. His 12th novel marks the author's return to some of the scenes and themes
of his now-classic first novel, City of Night. The
paperback edition was released in September 2000.
Greeted with controversy when they first
appeared, Rechy's books have in recent years been singled out for major prominence. This
year City of Night was named as one of the 25 all time "best
gay novels" by the Publishing Triangle in New York. His The
Sexual Outlaw: A Documentary was included by the San Francisco Chronicle Book
Review as among the 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of the century. In a recent issue of the Los
Angeles Times Book Review devoted to "L.A. Literature," Rechy was repeatedly
named by other writers, including Critic and Author Mike Davis (City of Quartz), as among
the five most important writers to have written about Southern California.
Rechy is the first novelist to receive PEN-USA-West's prestigious Lifetime Achievement
Award. The previous winners are Billy Wilder, Neil Simon, and Betty Friedan. In informing
Rechy of the honor, Sherrill Britton, Executive Director of PEN-West wrote: "For more
than three decades your highly original and exceptionally honest work has represented the
very ideals that PEN stands for--literary distinction and a stand against censorship and
Presenting the PEN Award to Rechy, Author and Washington Post Book Critic Carolyn See
described Rechy's voice as "fresh, beautiful, totally courageous-and totally cool,
passionate . . . twisting and pulling at the forms and contours of the American language
... a prose revolution. His individual vision is unique, perfect, loving and strong... [He
uses] his talent to illuminate the lives of the scorned and the ignored-women, the poor,
the crazy, and the sad ... He speaks for those who can't speak for themselves. . . [He]
has always been the steadfast champion of the disregarded, no matter their gender or
station in life."
In April, 1999, Rechy received his second Lifetime Achievement Award, the William
Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award from The Publishing Triangle, at the New School in
New York. The announcement of the award quoted Edmund White's description of Rechy as
"one of the most heroic figures of contemporary American life" and "a
touchstone of moral integrity and artistic innovation."
In his introduction of Rechy at the presentation, Author and Critic Michael Bronski
said, "[He] super-radically and forever altered how mainstream American. culture
wrote about, saw, experienced, and conceptualized homosexuality... All of [his] novels are
vital to both gay and American literature ... What [he] has given for more than 30 years
is a wonderful and terrifying gift. . a vision of a complicated, complex, and wonderful
world... He has given us life and literature." And Critic and Author Jameson Currier
wrote in the April 2, 1999 "New York Blade News," "Perhaps more than any
other American author in the 20th century, his writings have helped shape the sexual
consciousness of several generations of gay men."
The CD Rom of Rechy's life marks the first time that a writer's life and works have
been so explored. After a press preview of it, Los Angeles Times Film critic Kevin Thomas
wrote: "It interweaves three parts, 'Memories, Bodies and Cruising, which bring
alive visually Rechy's reflections upon his complex, impassioned life as a gay icon."
Rechy's first novel, City of Night, was an international
bestseller, and is now taught in contemporary-literature courses throughout the country,
along with others of his books. His The Miraculous Day of Amalia
Gomez is required reading in many Chicano Literature courses. His work has been
translated into approximately 20 languages. His second novel, Numbers,
was also a national bestseller, as was his nonfiction documentary, The
Sexual Outlaw. In addition, he has written, This Day's Death,
The Vampires, The Fourth Angel, Rushes, Bodies and Souls, Marilyn's Daughter , and Our Ladv of Babylon.
His play Tigers Wild, directed by Michael Ewing and
starring Frank Whaley, was performed Off-Broadway at Playhouse 91 in the 1986-87 season.
Produced in Los Angeles as The Fourth Angel, it starred Sarah Jessica Parker. His one-act
play, Momma As She Became-But Not As She Was, is performed throughout the country and
Europe, and has been widely anthologized.
He has twice been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Awards Body of Work
designation. He is a National Endowment for the Arts fellow. He has received Phi Kappa Phi
and Longview Foundation awards for his fiction.
He has lectured at Harvard, Yale, Duke, UCLA, USC, Occidental College, University of
Northern Illinois, among other academic institutions. He was the keynote speaker at the
1999 Writers' Conference at UCLA and at the 1990 Out/Write National Writers Conference at
San Francisco. He has been a key participant at numerous other literary conferences,
including the 1999 Los Angeles Times Book Festival, the Guadalajara International Book
Fair, Miami Book Fair, and New Orleans Literary Festival.
He has written essays for The Nation, Los Angeles Times Books, Washington Post Book
World, The Saturday Review, New York Times Book Review, San Francisco Chronicle, The
Philadelphia Inquirer, Dallas Morning News, London Magazine, Evergreen Review, New York
Magazine, The Advocate, Mother Jones, Premiere, and many other national publications.
Of Mexican-Scottish descent, he makes his home in Los Angeles,
California, where he teaches literature and film courses, for writers,
in the graduate division of the University of Southern California.
of Night | Numbers | This
Day's Death | The Vampires | The
Fourth Angel | The Sexual Outlaw Rushes
| Bodies and Souls
Marilyn's Daughter | The
Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez | Our Lady
of Babylon | The Coming of the Night
The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens
| Beneath the Skin
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