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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
The Gay Mammies
A Writer Protests
Review of Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro
A Spirit Preserved in 'Amber'
The Supreme Court Case
Review of Live from Golgotha: The Gospel According to Gore Vidal
Review of Lost Years: A Memoir 1945-1951 by Christopher Isherwood
Review of Out For Good
Review of Hoyt Street: an Autobiography
Review of Sergei Eisenstein: A Life in Conflict.
Review of Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation
Review of Whores for Gloria
Muscles and Mascara
Review of "Blonde"
Brother Paul, Sister Jan, Brother Hinn, God and the Folks
Advice to the Next Generation
Sins of the Fathers
Beatin' Around the Bush

Cruise Not Gay! The Judge Has Spoken

The Horror, The Horror
LA--a Cliché?
Dominick, Mark & Orenthal
Holy Drag!
Ms. Hill & Mr. Tom
Mrs. guy Ritchie 
Supreme Court 
Tom Cruise 
New Times Article 

A Writer Protests

Note: The following letter to Rebecca Sinkler from John Rechy was not mailed. Mr. Rechy had sent a copy to his publisher-editor and his publicist, and they had written him in alarm that if he proceeded to write to "the New York Times"--where, he was told, he was already "blacklisted for previous protests--he would harm all their writers "past and present"[sic]. In the interim Ms. Sinkler clumsily sent Mr. Rechy a form letter in response to a letter he had not sent! The angry letter that follows from Mr. Rechy, after the one not mailed, explains the situation, including her telephone call to him.

January 1, 1992

Ms. Rebecca Sinkler
Editor, New York Times Book Review
229 West 43rd Street
New York, New York 10036

Dear Ms. Sinkler:

For more than three months I've been looking forward to each issue of the "New York Times Book Review," expecting to see a review of my tenth novel, The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gómez. This expectation was based on several facts:

This is the only book of mine deprived attention in your pages, respectful attention that began in 1963 with my first novel, City of Night. Writers often mention me in articles in your pages--I qualify as a veteran. All that, would lead me to believe that my new book would receive comparable attention in under your editorship.

There's the matter of its subject: My new novel is about a 45-year-old Mexican-American woman living in Los Angeles today with her family. I'm sure you'll agree that there aren't many novels about this largely ignored minority, about the prejudice, bigotry, poverty of a people who still manage to believe in miracles. When I was a kid, I lived among families like Amalia's--I'm Mexican-American. In a passage in my book, a woman who works with Amalia in a sewing sweatshop, laments she must flee because she's being pursued by immigration authorities: "It's not difficult to become invisible when they've never really seen us."

Why the story about these women and their families should be ignored by you baffles me, deeply.

Paradoxically, last year you front-paged an essay titled-- significantly--"In Search of the Latino Writer." In it, Earl Shorris mentioned my importance as a "Chicano writer." Similarly, in a laudatory review of my new novel, Diane Lefer in "New York Newsday" called me "the most successful writer of Mexican-American descent." I'm included prominently in books on Latino literature; my new novel is already in the curriculum in Chicano Literature courses in the University of California at Irvine and New Mexico University. Shouldn't such a writer expect a review of his new novel?

Other factors made me expect a respectful review: My first novel, City of Night, is often referred to as a "modern classic." It has never been out of print, nor have several of my other

books; some are required reading in literature courses. I'm in virtually every volume that purports to discuss "important" writers--including Martin Seymour-Smith's Writers and Novelists, The Oxford Companion to American Literature, Benét's Reader's Encyclopedia. My writing has been translated into 20 languages. And my new novel has been widely reviewed in other book supplements, in every instance praised very highly. Had you chosen to assign it--I have little doubt--it would have received similar treatment.

My expectation of a review was based also on the fact that only a few months earlier my agent, Georges Borchardt, had sent you two outlines for proposed articles I thought suitable for the "Review"--one of them about the imposed perils of being rigidly identified as a "gay writer." Along with those outlines were several samples of book reviews by me that have appeared, often as lead reviews, in the "Los Angeles Times Book Review" and "Washington Post Book World." (I've written, too, for "Saturday Review," "Village Voice," "Mother Jones," "Nation," others.) Your response to the proposed articles was negative but courteous, indicating you'd keep me in mind for reviewing and were "looking forward" to my new novel.

Too: I've taught and lectured at Yale, Duke, Occidental College, UCLA. I'm now on the faculty in the graduate school at USC. I've been awarded an NEA fellowship. I've twice been nominated for the "Los Angeles Times" Body of Work Award (and, yes, I am quite proud of my varied body of work). My archives are at Boston University.

Of course, my belief in my novel is unaffected by whatever personal reasons led you to your choice not to review my book. But obviously you're aware of the importance, right or wrong, on a book's being reviewed in the "New York Times Book Review." Admittedly that has only an immediate impact on a book, a powerful but short-term effect, because it's based on the power of a newspaper's name, only that. Literary history exemplifies over and over that a book and a writer's reputation survive on their own strength, not the arbitrary decision of one person. Still the immediate effect may be a strong one in the present. Because of that, I've gone against the advice of all my professional associates to write this letter--I see no reason whatever why writers should not protest mistreatment.

And I do protest, Ms. Sinkler, on behalf of myself as a serious writer, a veteran of the literary wars for 30 years; but, more, I protest on behalf of the characters in my book, especially my Amalia, and the still-largely "invisible" people I wrote about.


John Rechy

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