At first glance, John Rechy assumed the letter must be meant for someone else. "Here was a lovely letter announcing this extraordinary honor. Well, I had to turn the envelope over to make sure it really was addressed to me. And, oh my, yes, it was!"
And now it is official. Rechy--the gay, Latino, body-building Los Angeles writer and teacher whose very existence was once challenged by the New York Review of Books--will receive the PEN Center USA West's prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award on Tuesday at the Regal Biltmore. He is the first novelist to be so honored. (Neil Simon, Betty Friedan and Billy Wilder are the only others to have received the award.)