The Summer of ’60

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After the Blue Hour: A True Fiction
by John Rechy
Grove Press. 212 pages, $25.

 

ALTHOUGH IT’S HARD to imagine John Rechy as a male ingénue, this is the role he assigns himself in his latest novel. Set in 1960—three years before the publication of City of Night made him famous—Rechy’s new novel is described on the title page as “A True Fiction.” This could describe many of his first-person narratives, which take readers into the mid-20th-century world of sexual outlaws: hustlers, drag queens, men seeking sex in city parks and rented rooms. Rechy not only wrote about but inhabited this world as a man compulsively pursuing impersonal sexual encounters. An unnamed version of John Rechy describing these intimate experiences is the narrator of many of his novels.

In After the Blue Hour, the narrator bears the name of the author himself. A preface informs us that the 24-year-old John Rechy has received a letter, forwarded by his publisher, from a man who admires two short stories recently published in magazines, and extends an invitation to spend the summer with him on his private island.

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