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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 437

City of Night is a 1963 novel written by American novelist, dramatist, and literary critic John Rechy. It received mainly positive reviews and was praised for its stream-of-consciousness narrative style and its bold and, at the time, controversial themes, such as male prostitution, homosexuality, and political injustice.

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And the next moment the fierce wind comes screaming, whirling the needle-pointed dust, stifling all hope. And you know then that what has not happened will never happen. That hope is an end within itself. And the fierce wind is an echo of angry childhood and of a very scared boy looking out the window—remembering my dead dog outside by the wounded house as the gray Texas dust gradually covered her up—and thinking: “It isn’t fair! Why can’t dogs go to Heaven?”

Rechy took a journalistic approach when writing his novel, and tried to portray his characters and their life stories as authentically as possible. The plot revolves around a young man who works as a hustler in New York City and, later on, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New Orleans and describes his various relationships and experiences with other men.

It's that magnificent interlude in New York between winter and spring, when you feel the warmth stirring, and you remember that the dreadful naked trees will inevitably sprout tiny green buds, soon. Everyone rushes into the parks, the streets--and you even forget that, very soon, summer will come scorchingly, dropping from the sky like a blanket of steam.

The novel also describes the 1959 Cooper Do-nuts Riot in Los Angeles, during which many LGBTQ+ people were harassed by the LAPD. Three men, one of them being Rechy, were arrested; however, two of them managed to escape when the rioters fought back.

I discovered the jungle of Central Park—between the 60s and 70s, on the west side. In the afternoons, Sundays especially, a parade of hunters prowled that area—or they would sit or lie on the grass waiting for that day’s contact.

City of Night was ranked number 22 on the list of the best 100 gay and lesbian novels made by the American association of gay men and lesbians in the publishing industry, The Publishing Triangle, in 1999.

And I see: Dominating the skyline, at the top of a tall building, a giant searchlight scanning the city. It glides eerily, swirls over the black water. It floats, soars above the skyline, and encircles the night city. And crazily excited I wonder suddenly if that spotlight swirling nightly is not trying somehow to embrace it all—to embrace that fusion of savage contradictions within this legend called America.

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