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February 20, 2008


Steve N.

The Kept Woman and the cover confused me, too, at first. On reflection, I like that his memoir didn't put right out in front the "youngman"-Rechy, instead choosing a mystery. His life has always been about mystery and passing for something else: the writer passing as a hustler; the Chicano passing as blanco; the mamacita's muchacho passing as tough and hard; the poor boy passing as middle class. The cover and title is sort of Rechy dropping one veil – the character of his novels – only to reveal another, more revealing, veil. And true to memoir style, not all the veils are removed and are still used to obscure the figure beneath. What's truth and what's fabrication? Maybe the next bio will drop another veil or two.
More troubling to me than the title alone, I’m afraid that the entire cover – title, photo, design – will not entice readers who might otherwise be interested. The Barnes & Nobles of the world will shelve it as Bio. The book will not be picked up by: the gay reader who does not browse bio; the straight bio reader who has never heard of him; the Rechy reader who doesn’t know that there’s a memoir but who browses gay lit. While a store like the Chelsea Barnes & Noble (the "gay" store) can cross-shelve it in bio and gay, few others can or would even know to. Since its release of almost a month ago, the Chelsea store has sold 2 copies – both to me. So you are, I am afraid, justified in your worries.

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