From Newsday

Liz Smith

excerpt from Leaving Us Speechless

April 4, 2003

BACK IN 1963, the novel "City of Night" appeared, written by John Rechy, based on his experiences as a hustler from Times Square to Hollywood. The book was an instant, notorious sensation, establishing Rechy as a top literary figure - though he perversely continued to play-for-pay even after fame and financial security arrived. He enjoyed being a thorn in the side of propriety.

Now there's a book out on Rechy himself, "Outlaw: The Lives and Careers of John Rechy" by Charles Casillo. The story of his rise as an author, his mingling with literati and his insistence on marching to his own narcissistic tune makes for a fascinating read. There is interest in turning Rechy's life into a movie. But one wonders why his vivid masterpiece, "City of Night," has never been optioned? (Gus Van Sant has said his acclaimed "My Own Private Idaho" was inspired by Rechy's based-on-fact fiction.) As a film, "City" would provide great roles for several young actors and a simply sensational turn for a mature actress. (Susan Sarandon could walk away with another Oscar.)

The subject matter is still startling, but by 21st century standards, hardly shocking.

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