Review from El Paso Times

Novel could be author's best creation
Jim Przepasniak
Special to the Times

Jim Przepasniak

John Rechy's latest work "The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens" is loosely modeled after Henry Fielding's "The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling."

     The characters of this work will stay with the reader a long time: attractive, naive Lyle and his beautiful mother Sylvia, a Miss America hopeful, who wants Lyle to become the image of the tall, handsome cowboy who abandoned her when he learned she was pregnant.

     Lyle's lovely high-school sweetheart Maria wants him to demonstrate the various definitions of love she wishes for. A group of fundamentalist activists -- who have tormented his mother, but are attracted by Lyle's charm and good looks -- want him to become "the Lord's Cowboy," an icon to promote their televangelist empire.

     Even when he makes a final break and leaves home for Los Angeles, Lyle finds that a crowd of devious individuals surrounds him -- fake magicians, wacko gamblers, otherworldly showgirls and underhanded pornographers.

     The account of an aging starlet attempting a comeback by involving Lyle in an unforgettable Academy Awards ceremony is truly remarkable. Still, Lyle continues on and in the end becomes who he is meant to be, himself.

     As always, Rechy uses his talent to illuminate the lives of those who cannot speak for themselves. "The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens" is an excellent work that presents Rechy at his height as a writer and narrator.

     It is worthwhile noting that Rechy's "The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez" is required reading in many Chicano literature courses and is the featured selection of El Paso Public Library's Read as One/Leamos Juntos reading program.

Jim Przepasniak, an avid reader, is the administrator at the El Paso Main Library.

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