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After the Blue Hour Hardcover – February 7, 2017
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Praise for After the Blue Hour:
“Rechy’s art has always been about power in various incarnations: the power of class and race, of the body and the intellectual . . . He continues to write with such elegance and lyricism, descending into raw scenes of human longing and violence . . . His language remains lapidary and hypnotic, never fading in its own control.”―Susan Straight, Los Angeles Times
“John Rechy is as bold as ever. When Gore Vidal said that Rechy was ‘one of the few original American writers of the last century,’ he was right. There’s no other writer like him, and with the publication of After the Blue Hour, he shows no signs of letting up.”―Ken Harvey, Lambda Literary
“A taut meditation on what it means to represent and to write, to read and to be read. After the Blue Hour is a beach read for those who prefer to thumb Genet rather than Grisham on the deckside chaise.”―Eric Newman, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Shocking, erotic, and suspenseful . . . His fiction is as provocative and electric as ever. Rechy has explored the intersection of identity, sexual yearning, and morality throughout his career, but never with the clarity he exhibits in After the Blue Hour.”―Jonathan Parks-Ramage, OUT Magazine
“Rechy’s gift for storytelling and erotic embellishment shows no signs of wear-and-tear . . . Mysterious, intriguing, and brashly amatory, Rechy’s take on gamesmanship, power, domination, and deception is a welcome return to form for the author and a wild ride indeed.” ―Jim Piechota, The Bay Area Reporter
“Tense metafiction, pungent with desire and emotional cruelty . . . Rechy’s prose is lean and sinewy . . . The novel is unflinching in its candor even as its events have a tantalizing aura of mystery.”―Publishers Weekly
“A steamy tale . . . with a kind of Gatsby-by-way-of-Henry James subplot. Beautifully written.”―Kirkus Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
The book takes its name from The Blue Hour, those moments of twilight that are described as the time where things are clearest yet most mysterious. 24 year old John Rechy is invited by a fan, Paul Wagner, to spend time on his private island with him after reading two of Rechy’s stories, Mardi Gras and The Fabulous Wedding of Miss Destiny, which later were included in Rechy’s acclaimed real life book, City of Night. Paul is particularly taken with the fascination and horror Rechy expressed in those stories at what he called the leering clowns and demonic angels during the height of Mardi Gras carnival in New Orleans. Also on the island are Paul’s exquisitely sensual mistress, and his rather precocious and challenging 14 year old son, Stanty (Constantine),
An under currant of tension runs throughout the story, intensified by the feelings of isolation in the recurring call of Father and Son of “Island, Island” stressing that they are entering a world that is solely theirs. Books play a large part in the story as much is made of the books in Paul's vast library, including Gide’s The Counterfeiters and Robbe-Grillet’s Le Voyeur. Several books seemingly selected by Wagner for John Rechy, as the son continually calls him throughout the story, are left for him in his room while others, including The Origins of Evil, are deliberately left out in the library designed to catch his attention.
The book is a labyrinthine puzzle with clues being the books scattered about, the odd interactions and conversations between the few people on the island (including the will o’ the wisp servant couple), and what Paul, Sonia, and even his oddly ambivalent son who swings between childish behavior and adult perceptions and sudden violent actions.
There is a peculiar feeling of sadomasochism in the relationship of the host, Paul and his mistress Sonia. While Paul is drawn to her beauty and sexuality, those very things seem to make him despise her for that exercising power over him, manifesting itself in his verbal cruelty and exhibitionistic and vicious, sometimes bloody kisses.
Paul continually tries to draw Rechy out in discussions of the nature of evil and cruelty, as he repeated refers to the descriptions of the “costumed revelers turned into angels, angels into demons, demons into clowning angels” fighting for beads in New Orleans so the bodies tangled and the “beads fell on splattered blood like dirty tears” in his story Mardi Gras. Paul seems to be trying to draw Rechy into admitting his own inherent cruelty from deriving joy in the exercising of sexual power over others. He is determined to draw similarities between himself and Rechy in that beneath the veneer of charm that both exude lies evil. The novel then turns even darker as the mind games become darker and more erotic. And nothing is what it seems.
As usual, Rechy is ambiguous about fact versus fiction--believing that more truth can often be found when an author is writing under the guise of fiction rather than declaring it autobiography. This story is based on an incident that actually happened to Rechy. In 1960, a young writer--in this book named John Rechy--is invited to spend time on a private island with an enigmatic and handsome divorcee, his cunning teenage son, and his radiantly beautiful mistress, all of whom appear to be playing a sort of dangerous game in which no one knows the rules...or the prize. Even while revealing themselves, each of these quirky characters seem to be hiding something--desires, rivalries, motivations--and sensuality and menace coexist in the atmosphere. In perfectly pared down prose (there isn't one unnecessary word) Rechy tells the story in a series of elegant set pieces offering layered, psychological character studies and a sustained thriller-ish mood of rising tension and a sinister "what will happen next" quality.
Rechy once described one of his books as being written in Technicolor. "After the Blue Hour" brings to mind the the shadowy pallete of a French neo-noir---subtle, dark, mysterious, and decadently beautiful.