Rechy, John. “About My Life and the Kept Woman: A Memoir”, Grove Press, 2008.
What a Life Story!!!
My generation knows John Rechy and for many of is his “City of Night” was a very, very important book. Rechy was a hustler who became a bestselling author and he wrote what many only whispered about. In “About My Life and the Kept Woman”, he tells the story of his life in great detail. Rechy’s search for identity is both filled with humor and laced with heartbreak.
Gore Vidal said that John Rechy was “one of the few original writers of the last century” and if you are not sure what that means then you must read this book. This memoir begins when Rechy was raised in Texas as a Mexican-American and then moves onto the place he really called home—the street. These streets were to become the major characters in his written work. Rechy writes about his life and as he does he is filled with the knowledge that he is accepting himself. Rechy shows that as he matured, he became more fascinated with the feelings he had for kept women. He also gained awareness that he was different from others in regard to his sexuality. He felt two slaps against himself—his Mexican heritage and his homosexuality. Even when he had sex with those that picked him up on the street, he never bothered to either define himself or to be defined by others. He found himself being the target of intolerance by family and society and that is what this book is really about—hatred and disrespect against a person who was who he was and did his own thing.
Rechy is a hard person to categorize because he fits into many and really doesn’t fit any. As he relates what really was going on his life while he wrote “City of Night”, his autobiographical novel, his prose and honesty captures the reader. His life was one of changes going on around him—wars, assassinations, radical movements and others and he writes about all of thus with great candor and does not hold back. Rechy was and remains an individual even when society frowned upon individualism.
Rechy’s life fascinates and mesmerizes and is laden with meaning. He inspires and he shocks and does a fine job of retelling his life.