5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
You'd Get the Same Effect from a Bottle of RUSH,
This review is from: Rushes (Rechy, John) (Paperback)
Hoo-boy. Someone dropped a couple of John Rechy books off at McKays, NUMBERS and RUSHES. I think that CITY OF NIGHT is an amazing book, and THE COMING OF THE NIGHT campy, but with lofty pretensions, so I've always been on the lookout for Rechy's other books, so I snagged these two despite their high (for used) prices. I just finished RUSHES, which was full of such disgusting, amoral and unpleasant people, none more so than the "everyman" who centers the story with his three confederates. RUSHES was written in 1979 and is the story of an evening in a heavy S&M-themed gay bar on the piers in New York City. Of course, with any book written at the time of the events, there is no foreshadowing, so Rechy had no idea that he was capturing a moment in gay life that would soon be wiped out by the upcoming AIDS virus. His characters have all converged to this gay bar, with its' mandatory "uniform" code for, well, for what. Each character has their own agenda, to forget past lovers, to initiate the newcomers into a lifestyle or to simply feel accepted for the night. The book is presented in such punishing tones, with the cruelest barbs saved for the older (40s) man in the group, who realizes that all of those bars with signs reading 35&Under have left him to fend for himself. There are many illusions to hunters, and that is certainly an aspect to the evenings' affairs. The notion of some African tribes who sent their older men into the wild to die, with the younger tribesmen throwing stones at them if they return, is a valid argument to these people. However, after the tenth leatherman walks by and the twentieth vial of amyl is inhaled, you just want to meet a guy and share a piece of cheesecake at a diner. Edmund Wilson constantly visits this scene, but in moderation - there is no indication that these men do anything else, and sure, one could argue that Rechy is telling a particular story, but he lets his characters spout such gibberish that the reader feels that to Rechy this is the end all be all of the gay existence. The interesting thing is, is that this attitude is still prevalent, in some ways. You can still have a profile online in which there are exclusions based on age, hair type, waist size, etc. As a group we write it off to "preferences," but cruelty can still be cruel. Rechy makes some valid observations, but the revelations that he makes are spit out as homilies, not horror shows. He wants to shock us with displays of graphic sex (well, less sex and more show) while never allowing us to see his multiple protagonists engage in anything more than bitchy, BOYS IN THE BAND-lite vindictiveness. Rechy makes several references to the filth of the bar, the garbage on the floor, which is much less than the ugliness of his characters. In THE COMING OF THE NIGHT he at least has a cross-representative collection of gay men in 1983, and maybe in condemning this book for lacking that I am missing his point entirely. When most people say "I'm no prude," that actually means they are, but seriously, I'm no prude, but I found some of the wanton acts and attitudes disgusting. The only redeeming aspect of this book is the sociological sliver that this book represents, but in the wrong hands this book is a blanket indictment of homosexuals, with no positive images or characters, giving our detractors the picture they've already painted in their head.