Rushes -- John Rechy

"When John Updike is routinely identified in book-review journals as a "self-avowed heterosexual," I won't mind being identified as a "self-avowed" homosexual," although I don't remember having taken a vow about sexuality, whereas I suspect John Updike may have done just that."

John Rechy
Spring 1995

Rushes by John Rechy

Once again, John Rechy
takes us to an unexplored part of our world.

The story develops during a single evening and is set in a "leather and Western" bar located near the decaying and deserted waterfront of a large American city. This is the sexual battlefield, the world of the trucks, the piers, the warehouses. And Rechy explores it with a compelling, dramatic story told in a style that is elegant, convincing and unsparing.

Into the bar arrives a range of characters: the regular patrons in their ceaseless search for compatible love, the occasional customer hoping for a quick sexual fix, the female and transvestite hookers who work the dark streets outside, the couple seeking a voyeuristic experience, the young man venturing out for the first time.

During the course of the evening we come to know these people, their loneliness and fears, their pride and their courage. We share with them their search and their discoveries. Rechy has distilled from these lives a human experience that is moving, painful and revealing.

The evening culminates with one of the most shattering and powerful scenes in recent fiction. The central character, around whom most of the evening's activities have revolved, leaves the bar at closing time and goes to a sadomasochistic orgy room. This descent into the depths of a sexual underworld fulfills the ceremonial structure of this artfully conceived work. The almost religious rites of the evening end in a ritual sacrifice.


In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.

As often as he comes to the Rushes, Endore still feels a clash of excitement and dread in anticipation of the sights, sounds, odors he knows will assault him. The astonishing array of cowboys, motorcyclists, construction workers, policemen, lumberjacks, military- uniformed men will cluster intimately within the red darkness.

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