From the El Paso Times

El Paso writer talks about his craft, fame, sexuality
Ramón Rentería
El Paso Times

John Rechy preferred to remain somewhat anonymous -- for a long time.
Rechy sometimes would not tell others that he was a writer, even as he cranked out best-selling novels.

     Rechy, 72, just published his latest novel "The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens," a book he is optimistic could liberate him from the long-standing label as the poster boy for gay literature.

     Rechy, an El Paso native, is most often associated with the classic 1960s novel "City of Night" and other gay-oriented books that he has written over the years.

     "I am very hopeful this book gets really good attention and sales, that I will finally, finally, finally be just a writer who is gay," Rechy said in a phone interview from his home in Los Angeles.

     Rechy is receiving good press, positive reviews on "Lyle Clemens."
"The book feels at times like one of Robert Alman's classic films, perhaps 'Nashville,' with its expansive canvas and its mixture of humor and sadness. ... A comic tour de force and, at the same time, a truly heartfelt book," Publisher's Weekly said in its starred review.

     Writer Gore Vidal described Rechy as "one of the few original American writers of the last century."

     Rechy acknowledged he has enjoyed soaking up the praise.
"For a long time, I was just somewhat ignored," Rechy said. "I've had to battle for recognition. It hasn't been easy."

     Now, even reviewers who wouldn't review Rechy are taking another look at his earlier works. One of those critics described Rechy's novel "The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez" as "an undiscovered masterpiece."
UTEP's Liberal Arts College just recently gave Rechy a Gold Nugget Award for outstanding achievement.

     He will be the keynote speaker Thursday at an El Paso Public Library Association fund-raising dinner at the El Paso Marriott.

     "You want your hometown to acknowledge you. Until recently, that hasn't been so forthcoming. It seems to be now, and I love that," Rechy said.
As for "Lyle Clemens," Rechy describes the novel as a humorous and sad tale that takes the form and spirit of an 18th-century novel.

     "I've always been fascinated by form and structure. There's a challenge in taking a very old form and make it seem modern," Rechy said.
Rechy is working on a long novel called "Autobiography: A Novel" and a novella based in El Paso. He also teaches creative writing at the University of Southern California.

     "Sometimes, sharing your artistic energy is very wearing, but the pleasure comes when you see somebody transformed and then triumphing," Rechy said.

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