Letter to the Editor,
New York Times
In his review of my book About My Life and the Kept Woman, David Leavitt seems to have reviewed, instead, the photographs of me on my Web site. In his opening paragraph, he dwells on the "beefcake" photos he claims he found there, photos "one would more usually encounter on, well, different kinds of Web sites." The coy implication is that those photographs would be appropriate on pornographic sites. (Not one of those photographs would be out of place in any mainstream periodical.) He laments the absence of "a typical author photograph." A few paragraphs later, he returns to the subject of the photographs. He ends his review with yet another such reference.
In his fascination with those photos, Mr. Leavitt does not bother to note that there are also photographs of my family, my father, my mother, my sisters and brothers, several non-"beefcake" photos of me, including me as a child, and several "typical author" photos. (Curiously Mr. Leavitt mentions only photographs on my Web site, not those that appear in the published book.)
To get to the photos that arrested his attention, Mr. Leavitt had to ignore the first page of my site, which lists my various literary honors, including PEN-Central-USA's lifetime achievement award. Farther on, he would have found dozens of essays by me on many subjects, on writing, on film, on literature, subjects much more pertinent to my writing than the photos that enthralled him.
Once again, Mr. Leavitt has asserted his tendency to be reckless with the work of others.
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NOTE: This letter was published in the New York Times Letters column as it appears here but with the last line here deleted, at their request. The line was meant clearly to remind that Leavitt had been successfully charged with plagiarism by the poet Stephen Spender and the publishers were forced to withdraw his questioned book until several apparently plagiarized pages were removed. The English publishers would not release the book in any form, fearing yet another charge of plagiarism against Leavitt.
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Original material by John Rechy appears
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