John Rechy Essay - Critical Essays

Rechy, John (Vol. 1)

Rechy, John

American novelist, author of City of Night. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 5-8, rev. ed.)

Broadly speaking, Rechy's work may be said to belong to the self-revelatory school of Romantic Agony…. John Rechy's work is solidly, even aggressively, in this tradition; if it seems to be "cooler," that is simply a matter of current fashion, the crucial thing being its strict adherence to the basic mandate of its school: "Feel everything and leave nothing unsaid." Naturally this often leads to an embarrassing amount of overstatement, subjectivity, and a complete lack of craftsmanship—sometimes all in the same breath….

Terry Southern, in Contemporary American Novelists (© 1964 by Southern Illinois University Press; reprinted by permission of Southern Illinois University Press), edited by Harry T. Moore, Southern Illinois University Press, 1964, pp. 222-23.

Rechy's This Day's Death is a very quietly, very precisely intense story of a rather ordinary man awaiting trial for a homosexual act he did not commit. There is very little sensationalism in Rechy's novel (for a change); emphasis is rather on the growing horror as the protagonist, Jim Girard, waits while the courts slowly grind out his fate. On one level, This Day's Death has to be read as a low-keyed but disturbing social reform novel….

This Day's Death is a powerful novel in part because Rechy has avoided the temptation to preach. Instead, he concentrates on one of the chief jobs of the novelist—that of communicating experience as he believes it to be.

Lee T. Lemon, in Prairie Schooner (© 1971 by University of Nebraska Press; reprinted by permission from Prairie Schooner), Fall, 1971, p. 271.