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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  367 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Book jacket/back: Johnny Rio, a handsome narcissist but no longer a pretty boy, travels to Los Angeles, the site of past sexual conquest and remembered youthful radiance, in a frenzied attempt to recreate his younger self. Johnny has ten precious days to draw the "numbers," the men who will confirm his desirability, and with the hungry focus of a man on borrowed time, he s
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published (first published 1967)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  367 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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A disappointing follow up to City of Night, charting the existential angst of Chicano author-narrator Johnny, newly returned to Los Angeles after having spent three years working at home in his small hometown in Texas. The novel at first follows Johnny as he walks around the streets of L.A. revisiting old haunts and recollecting his past life as a hustler in fragments, but soon collapses into a series of repetitive cruising scenes. The writing’s a step toward the kind of terse, streamlined style ...more
Huw Collingbourne
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Rechy is a wonderful but sadly unappreciated writer and this is one of his best books. It tells the story of Johnny Rio (a barely fictionalised version of the author) who returns to Los Angeles for ten days in which he will hunt for a fixed number of sexual partners. And this is where we come to the major reason for Rechy's lack of wider public appreciation: his novels contain a great deal of explicit description of male-to-male sexual acts. Even in the 21st Century, some people may find th ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I recognize that this is considered a classic of LGBT literature. But it's just way too focused on a scene that I believe the LGBT community of 2019 has moved beyond thanks in part to broader acceptance, increased civil rights, and most importantly, greater aspirations of it's individual members. I personally don't understand a world where someone is defined by a body count of partners. Identifying solely with that statistic and personal beauty is so shallow an existence that it makes me almost ...more
Bodosika Bodosika
Started this book yesterday night
thought it would be interesting but I guess am wrong,
The characters descriptions were absurd and boring,the dialogue too artificial.I never knew it was about homosexuality and group of perverts....all the same I don't pick a book without reading it till the End,But I assure you that I will never read any book by 'John Rechy' again!
James Roman
As an impressionable junior-high student when this book was released, I had an after-school job at the town library, shelving books. It meant that I held the very newest books before a single person checked them out. To prevent challenges by local residents if a book might be "racy," the librarians glued a favorable review inside the cover to preclude all confrontations. "Numbers" was one such title. All I had to do was look at the cover and spy that review pasted inside to know that I must be t ...more
Adam Dunn
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: glbt
It's not City of Night, don't be expecting it. This follow-up likely disappointed many but it is classic Rechy and well describes the sex-hunt and mating game that continues to this day and likely will well into the future. Cruising has never been displayed as well as in this book, and perhaps, being written in 1967, everyone knew it had been done the best it was going to get and moved on. This could explain why a similar book hasn't been done since. But... but... is it enough?
The book could do
Gene Hult
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dated, rather repetitive, and with a character who comes off as more emotionally stunted, psychologically backward, and depressing rather than engaging, Numbers nevertheless has some lovely descriptions, and certainly serves as a fascinating historical record of the pre-AIDS era. The sex is more perfunctory than titillating (as supported by the plot and characterization), but there's a lot of it, and its honesty and directness still feels fresh. My favorite part of the book was the naturalistic ...more
Oct 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Holly Woodlawn
Recommended to Andy by: Mano
Shelves: gay-lesbian
My edition of "Numbers" has John Rechy decked out in his hustler finest, resplendent in work denim shirt sleeves rolled up the arm to show off his saucy guns. Really wild.

"Numbers" is a wild story about a hustler who returns back to his old haunts in Hollywood after a sabbatical in Texas. Once he comes back he returns to his old habits, realizing he wasn't really in it for the money, but is in reality a rampaging sex addict. The book starts out as a serious meditation on loneliness but descends
b aaron talbot
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
my first rechy book (and yes, i know i should read “city of night”). quite fantastic.

the writing style make you feel as manic as the main character, johnny rio, as he cruises griffith park in l.a. and his quest to reach his ‘number’ of sexual contacts/conquests. and while it is definitely about sex and very erotic for some stints, it is also about identity, obsession, addiction, and being queer in l.a. in the mid to late 60s.

some of this book reminds me of david rees, who wrote about california
May 31, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: goodlooking youngmen
This book is serious literature and porn - incredibly dark existentialist tale set in L.A. Is Rechy the best writer of Los Angeles ever? Good question. I don't like to deal in absolutes personally, but you could say, yes, and I might hum and nod quietly in agreement. I teach this book in a class on addiction. One mystery - is there a cameo appearance by Isherwood 3/4 of the way through - I've always thought so. ...more
Micha Meinderts
Jul 30, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe it was a good book for its time, but damn, such pointless drizzle. The style grated across my eyes, there was no plot to speak of, the character was not very fleshed out at all and not very likeable either and the worst thing was that in the end the whole story had been in vain. It reminded me somewhat of The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway, what I remember of it anyway, and that's NOT a compliment.

Waste of time.
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is definitely adult reading material, not so much because of any eroticism, but rather the subject matter--promiscuous sexual excess. It may take some familiarity with a life such as Mr. Rechy elucidates to appreciate what a truly refreshing and poignant writer he actually is.
Poor, dispiriting follow up to City of Night. Morally hollow with no real narrative to hang on to.
May 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
...for the sex-obsessed
James Garman
Dec 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq
This was John Rechy's second novel. It is based, at least in part, on his early years in Los Angelos and the anonymous sex scene and hustling that he took part in. It was written in 1967 and I likely read it sometime between 1976 and 1980 and remembered the title "numbers" and one phrase from the book. That much had stuck in my mind as indicative of how my early gay experience played out.

However, reading it again, almost 45 years later, give or take, there is so much more to the story. It tells
Apr 15, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was excited to read this book after having enjoyed City of Night, but I was disappointed by how repetitive and dull this book was. A clear “sequel” to the City of Night, this book sought to address the existential crisis that arises when someone who is completely defined by his sex appeal realizes that his good looks won’t last forever. However, unlike the first book, where the protagonist is gradually able to see through the façade of his “hustling”, the protagonist in this novel seems incapa ...more
Jeffrey Powanda
Mar 21, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay
A limp follow-up to Rechy's classic debut novel, City of Night. In this one, the narcissistic hustler has a name: Johnny Rios, an obvious stand-in for Rechy. Numbers was published in 1967, four years after City of Night. In the forward to this edition, written in 1984, Rechy mentioned that he wrote the book over three months, and that he tried to capture "a sense of time pausing" in his description of the random sexual encounters Johnny experiences during his ten-day stay in Los Angeles. The gay ...more
Daniel Sanderfer
I wished it had been better than what it was, but considering the story is from the sixties, I understand it was a reflection of the times. Rio is an interesting character with layers facing down a crisis; he's not young anymore, and that reads through in this story. I liked the overall premise, but I found the MC to be very indecisive and that worked continuously against him, sabotaging his happiness. It kind of put me in mind of modern-day "gay for pay" guys. All in all, I greatly respect our ...more
Ahmad Awadalla
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Captures the geist of cruising and sexual obsession so skillfully. Exposing characters through dialogue and sex acts works perfectly. I guess the downside is that the main character John is unfortunately a limited character and not very likeable. maybe it is laudable to write a story about the guy that most of the queer scene hates on.
Steve Woods
Most people lead their lives within the structures of relationship established by their society, drawing them like a blanket of security that reassures about the nature of self in relation to the world and others. For some however, who are torn out of that comfortable place and broken in some way by their early experiences in life, usually within the family, there is another side of life, a darker side than dwells near the fringes. Most people have some awareness of it, unless they live in compl ...more
Thomas Hinton
Apr 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel follows the exploits of Johnny Rio, an extremely good-looking narcissist, during his ten day return to the city of 'dead angels', Los Angeles.

Rechy explores the city as a series of subterranean spaces -- public parks, theatre balconies, cinema bathrooms -- that play host to the grubby and fleeting homosexual activities of the nameless individuals who haunt them. In doing so, Rechy delineates an interpenetration of sex and death, where the former, played out in all its glorious anonym
S.A. Collins
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Numbers (and City of the Night) were my bibles of gay life when I was a burgeoning teenaged gay boy of the late 70's and 80's. His work both enriched me and instructed me on a part of gay life that I knew nothing about. But more importantly, Rechy gave me the gift that being gay didn't mean that I was emasculated. I was transformed by this knowledge.

When I need a literary reset - it is his prose and his hand and his mind that I turn to. He has never failed me yet.
Marcus Woodman
I liked Rechy's writing style; it made getting into Johnny Rio's thoughts and downward (?) spiral entertaining and even tangible, in some parts. However, the content and characters did nothing for me. Johnny was too narcissistic for me to enjoy reading about him, even as he changed throughout the novel. But like I said, the way Rechy strings words together is superb. ...more
Dec 05, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is 95% seedy sex-capades and 5% story. I enjoyed the very small story which centered around old L.A. It got to the point where I started scanning over the sex scenes which were often and redundant.
Liked City of Night much more.
A classic LGBT book from the sixties, it is a quick read that illustrates sexual compulsion with engaging and funny prose that posseses very dark undertones. One of John Rechy's better books. ...more
Feb 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting description of subculture just as all Rechy's books are ...more
Feb 19, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq, fiction
revised Evergreen Editions 1984
Dec 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
it's not bad , but sadly not very good either , and not a patch on the amazing and life- changing City of Night. ...more
Jan 07, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Focused, repetitive and somewhat extreme narrative.
Pan Ellington
another gritty, l.a. tome by rechy. enjoyable reading about parts of the city i know well, nothing i haven't read before, though. ...more
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John Rechy is an American author, the child of a Scottish father and a Mexican-American mother. In his novels he has written extensively about homosexual culture in Los Angeles and wider America, and is among the pioneers of modern LGBT literature. Drawing on his own background, he has also contributed to Chicano literature, especially with his novel The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez, which is ta ...more

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