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Letter to Councilman LaBonge
Real People as Fictional Characters
Female Actors, Part Two
One Culture Hero Award
Adelante Gay Pride Gala
Best Work of Fiction?
Tom of Finland: Sexual Liberator or Enslaver
Lying Writers
Review of The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson
Promiscuous Thoughts
A Crime of the Heart
A Letter to Michael Silverblatt
"Have you no decency, sir?"
Political Incorrectness: Female Actors and Trojans
He Hugged Moms and Dads
What is a Girly Man?
Review of Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
From Sunset Boulevard to Mulholland Drive
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A Writer Protests
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Review of Lost Years: A Memoir 1945-1951 by Christopher Isherwood
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Brother Paul, Sister Jan, Brother Hinn, God and the Folks
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A Writer Protests

January 7, 2004

Mr. Charles McGrath, Editor
The New York Times Book Review
229 West 43rd Street
New York, New York 10036

Dear Mr. McGrath:

A few years ago my then-editor warned me not to write to you to suggest a review of my novel Our Lady of Babylon, the result being that I would never be reviewed in your pages or reviewed only negatively. When I did write, the same source informed that I was "blacklisted"--I had transgressed. I refused to believe that those ostensibly dedicated to the literary arts would deliberately compromise a respected writer's reputation. Evidence of the dour prognosis manifested itself; a cursory review dismissed my novel.

In answer to another inquiry about my next novel, The Coming of the Night, you telephoned to say it would not be reviewed--so sexually graphic that there was no page to quote from. Absurd, of course. You offered to reconsider. No review appeared. Your phone call became doubly offensive. In Salon, the same novel, about the coming of AIDS, was described by Bruce Browning as one that "very nearly touches greatness."

Naive to think there would be a resurgence of integrity at the NYTBR--or should I say decency? You guaranteed dismissal of my 13th novel, The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens, by assigning a meager 200 or so words and a tiny by-line for a review of a highly praised novel by an established author, and you assigned it to a man of vague qualifications struggling to have his first novel published by courting book-review editors, according to an internet reference to him (www.keef.net). (He is apparently succeeding in the latter if not the former.)

With that review, you extended professional disrespect to the editors of Publishers Weekly, who gave my novel a starred review, and to the editors of the Los Angeles Times Book Review, who named it one of the year's 10 best.

In my letter responding to your telephone call, I pointed out what literary history affirms. Offensive reviewers and book-review editors are recalled, if at all, only in derisive footnotes.

On page 213 of a biography of me published last year, the matter of your odd telephone call is recorded.

And there you are, Mr. McGrath, in a footnote.

Sincerely,

John Rechy

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