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Failing To See The Humor

September 29, 1996

Sara E. Melzer accuses John Rechy's feminist novel, "Our Lady of Babylon" (Aug.18), of being bad ideology. Her review fails to perceive the humor in his dazzling performance. Instead of welcoming the alliance he creates between sexual women and gay men who have both been demonized as sexual outlaws within patriarchal discourse, she implies that Rechy should stick to his own turf--the "hustlers, drag queens and polysexual men" of "City of Night" who "are so real they almost grab you by the throat."

"Our Lady of Babylon" is neither revisionist scholarship nor realistic fiction. It's a brilliant work of comic satire that appropriates the rhetorical cipher, the "whore of Babylon," to expose the misogynistic structure of many interwoven myths and to parody a wide range of literary forms--from Greek tragedy to Genesis and the Gospels, from 18th century porn to Rechy's own florid fiction. Rechy's Lady delivers not a "true" account of history but an intricate structure of language that exposes the destructive power of mythic babble and that provokes us to imagine radical alternatives to history.

MARSHA KINDER, LOS ANGELES

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