15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 1998
I have just re-read this novel--I read it as required reading more than ten years ago at Yale. The book has not aged one bit. If anything, it becomes richer, and the characters I remembered came back to life even more vividly, especially Pete the Times Square hustler, and Miss Destiny, the L.A. dragqueen, and Sylvia, the New Orleans gay bar owner always searching for her banished son. So many others spring alive in this moving novel about America at night.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 19 May 2013
A really good book with a strong story. There were times when the book jumped from city to city leaving me a little lost, there were times when i wished a story was a little more developed. Some characters seemed to be simple lost or dropped in the tale. But all in all I found this book to be a very good read.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2013
Fantastic writing. I have to write 20 words at least...so i could write the word fantastic 20 times,,,is that helpful?,,well yeah it is really. JUST READ IT FOR YOURSELF! and see what you think. Raw, brutal, sad,candid,funny, enlightening,soulful. I was there on his journey!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I first read about 'City of Night' around 1980, when I read Hopkins and Sugarman's important biography of Jim Morrison (vocalist with The Doors), 'No-one Here Gets Out Alive'. Morrison was a great admirer of 'City of Night', which at the time was regarded as a major counterculture novel, up there with such obvious modern classics as 'On The Road', 'Junky', 'Naked Lunch' and 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'. Sugarman claims that Morrison gave him (Sugarman) the book to read -amongst a pile of other tomes - when he was only fourteen, an act of literary rebelliousness that still shocked him years later. Morrison's own affection for the book is clear - he quotes from it in the songs "Break On Through (to the Other Side)" - from The Doors' debut ("made the scene/week to week/day to day/hour to hour") and "L.A. Woman" -from The Doors final Morrison-fronted album ("another lost angel/in the city of night").
Despite all this, 'City of Night' is virtually forgotten in Britain today. The last mass-market edition was the Granada A format paperback that went out of print in 1986 and since then, its been missing from UK bookshops, so the Independent Voices edition is a welcome reissue. My own feeling is that this book should have been snapped up by Penguin Modern Classics, but then they've neglected to acquire the work of Alexander Trocchi also.....but I digress. 'City of Night' is, despite its growing obscurity, still a classic counterculture novel that anyone interested in subcultures and the emergent counter-culture must read. For too long, its has been ghetto-ised as a 'gay novel', though of course it is a seminal work (no pun intended) in homosexual literature. For me, reading it is like listening to a Lou Reed album that never existed, a record that would have come inbetween 'Transformer' and 'Berlin'.
A thinly veiled autobiographical novel, 'City of Night' episodically, existentially and poetically describes the life of an alienated chicano youth who, in a quest to simultaneously distance himself from his feelings while examining them under the microscope of experience, bums around the great seaboard cities of America as a 'malehustler', selling his body for sex, obstensibly heterosexual, but clearly fascinated by same-sex relations. Revealing the emptiness of postwar consumerist America (what Henry Miller called 'The Air-Conditioned Nightmare') against a personal, trackless freedom of drifting from Times Square in Manhattan to the open spaces of LA, Rechy's protagonist encounters the different subspecies of gay life that typified the homosexual identities of the time - effeminate queens, butch S & M types, non-reciprocal hustlers and so on. While such descriptions may seem stereotypical, they were no doubt authentic at the time and later (if you read Rechy's work chronologically, you can see how the gay scene evolved in the US before Stonewall, beyond it into the Bathhouse scene and into the AIDS epoch). Rechy writes from direct experience, affectingly and very well indeed. The unforgettable characters -their loneliness and vividly drawn personas - are Rechy's Lost Angels, all loose and sliding, ships that pass in the city of night.
This is arguably Rechy's best work. It is easily his most measured and restrained, possibly due to the distance and remoteness he undoubtedly felt within himself at the time. 'City of Night' is a meditative, almost quiet work, in contrast to his later, more fiercely passionate books such as 'Numbers', 'Fourth Angel' and 'Rushes', all of which I recommend highly. You don't have to be homosexual to enjoy this work - if, like me, you've enjoyed Keruoac, Burroughs, Trocchi, Kesey, Hunter Thompson, then you're really missing out if you don't read this novel. You certainly cannot understand one of the most neglected aspects of sixties US counterculture if you don't read 'City of Night', so you can't understand counterculture per se without it.
'City of Night' was good enough for Jim Morrison, a staunch heterosexual. He admired its audacity, its fearlessness, its quality and its depiction of a city and its denizens Morrison himself knew so well. If you've ever seen yourself as a Lost Angel (and you don't have to be gay to have felt this way - I'm not of the persuasion and yet once bore the words 'Lost Angels' in letraset on the lapel of my motorcycle jacket), you'll love this book. Do yourself a favour and sink into the demimonde of neon and longing that is one of the truly sublime outsider novels of the last fifty years.
Stephen E Andrews, author, '100 Must Read Books For Men'
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2005
Written in the early 1960s, this book reads like it could have been written a lot more recently. There's a modernism to the style that keeps it young. The attention to detail and character are strong and riveting. Locations and scenes come to life. It's alive.
on 1 July 2013
This is a classic but it belongs to an older generation than most of our members. They didn't like it all whereas I thought it conjured up that past very well, especially in its use of spliced words: Horrormovie (which also appears in the film A Clockwork Orange), youngman, sexmoney, malenurse, malehustlers, spadebar, malebar, nightpeople, meanlooked, ghostfaces, ghostwords, ghostrooms, rush-gushed and its lack of apostrophes.
Loneliness and hunger for relationship emerge in recounting the seeds of restlessness in childhood, never really knew father, remoteness towards people, craving for attention, sex turned me even more in on myself `You are lost, deep down in your soul.' `There's got to be some kind of morality. Not the kind they teach you in Sunday School'- gypsy woman. I appear young but inside it's like miles of years have passed. `You want, very much to be loved- but you don't want to love back.' `I' say that, when you leave, I'll be less lonely than you.' As a child, afraid of the dark, Orgasms have made us strangers again, Nightcities, nightlives substitute for salvation, Was religious until dog died, goes into church ands finds it empty
Rentboys are playing a game - not really for the money. Punters don't like fems or people who read books. An acting teacher passes a boy round. Youth is a badge, beauty is a treasure, old men's faces are bloated that were once beautiful, haunted eyes. An onlooker at the beach is ashamed when he sees screaming fairies, doesn't flash the cash, hates the word `gay'
One felt seduced into violence, and later feels revulsion at what he had done -then when he apologises he is told he isn't supposed to care. In one moment - split self sober me looking at drunk me - only one priest listens over the `phone and says `I know.'
About the scene at the time: Dancing is legal if butch dykes with fem men, no touching. If two homosexuals s don't fancy each other they do not make eye-contact but keep looking for new men entering the bar.
on 7 July 2015
City of Night is a classic of its kind...Rechy is an evocative and at times poetic writer who captures the seedy underside of America. The novel is sad, bleak and depressing showing the lost lives of people living in a more closed and tragic rendering of American society.
One issue: this version of the book is littered with spelling mistakes, typos, incorrect capitalisation and general bad formatting. This really ruined my enjoyment of the novel. There are spelling mistakes every 10 or so pages (and repeat errors at that, for ex. the word 'balance' always appears as Bmance) and this lazy rendering of the text lets this version of an otherwise great book down.
on 27 April 2015
As a heterosexual man I have to say I'm loving this book. Rechy has the knack of bringing to life
a world of hustlers and scores that I know nothing about, or have any interest in exploring outside of literature.
Written in 1963, the sex is [thankfully to me] not graphic, more implied. He introduces a dizzying variety of characters
most of whom are loveable and extremely colourful. A wonderful exploration of the almost universal search for something outside of ourselves,
of alienation, of the need to keep moving, moving, but to where, and why ?
14 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 2000
I picked up a dusty old book amongst many others, not expecting much and certainly not with the childish greed brought on by the glossiness of new books and their promise of knowledge and poetry (which then , mostly, fades into a redundant echo of other echoes). What I did expect was an exhausted expose of the degeneracy of urbanism, the tireless decadence of city life hand in hand with the ever-so-popular angst brought on by the opium fumes of existentialist discourse. What I did not expect was this almost overbearing burden of humanness which is only possible with children and those poignant post-Freudian/ Mann-like characters lost in the events, memories and guilt of the past. Rechy obviously loves his characters, he is Sylvia. protectively surveying his 'children'; one gets the feeling that while describing each of his characters with a guilt-ridden abandon of a person attempting to understand whilst not getting involved, he is in fact clothing their naked vulnerability with a veil of dignity ...Kathy, Chi-Chi, Miss Destiny, the queens, the male hustlers, the homosexuals, the sad and the lonely, the marginalised and the fetishised ... Rechy takes us in the darkest hours of the night through the lonesome alleys of cruising grounds and bars to rediscover what has already been established with Neitzche .. that we are all 'Human, all too Human.'
on 17 June 2015
Got bored about half way through