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Roger Michael Kean spent his childhood in Nigeria, West Africa then survived (just) a British boarding school. He studied fine art and film technique (he edited TV sports films for a decade) before accidentally dropping into magazine and, eventually, book publishing. After the African experience, he has travelled widely for exploration as well as relaxation. In the mid-1980s, he was co-founder of a magazine publishing company which launched some of Britain’s most successful computer games periodicals, including CRASH and ZZAP!64. Since then he has edited books on subjects ranging from computer games, popular music, sports and history, including "The Complete Chronicle of the Emperors of Rome", with links to the original illustrations at the Recklessbooks.co.uk website. In addition to the titles shown here, Kean has also written, under the name of Zack, his artist-partner, the paperback "Boys of Vice City" and "Boys of Disco City", available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon. The third in the series, "Boys of Two Cities" is out in November 2012.
on Dec. 04, 2012 :
Felix is serendipity. He is that chance encounter that changes lives -- mostly for the better in these chronicles of Felix as he encourages relationships or heals them or corrects a situation as he travels through time from ancient day to the future and points in between. While Felix indeed is serendipity personified his focus is on gay men and his most potent tool in changing lives is sex. Chance is such a strong force in life that not eve Felix seems to know where he is going next or what his purpose will be. Eventually he figures it out and so does the reader. Felix is irresistible and so is Felixitations.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on July 15, 2012 :
Before I say anything else about this novel (or short story anthology, depending on how you choose to view it), I recommend that anyone interested in reading Felixitations start by looking at this article by the author. It is at least somewhat enlightening. Honestly, I think this information should have been included at the beginning of the book in an author's note. It is crucial to understanding what the heck this book is about and what exactly the author was trying to accomplish with it.
Felixitations is actually a collection of short stories about a number of characters, many of whom pop up multiple times and in multiple incarnations throughout the book, and all of whom are somehow connected to Felix. The author identifies Felix as "the felicitator, or bringer of joy, and also the facilitator, the one who makes things possible." So he is more the embodiment of an idea than he is an actual character. His existence is never really explained within the novel itself, and each version of Felix is so different that it is hard to view them all as a single entity. As a result, Felix's frequent alterations in personality and purpose from one story to the next weakens the already-thin link between the 19 stories and gives the collection a disjointed feel.
The stories are written in a variety of styles, usually reflecting the location and era in which they are set. Most of the stories are written in third person, past tense, but a few are written in first person, or present tense, or both. Some of the styles are very effective, and some... aren't. The worst of the lot is definitely "Roland and Olivier," which is written in atrocious and unintentionally-hilarious verse. My favorite story was "A Soldier of Fortune," which was one of the few truly romantic stories in the book. I also liked the vicious little cautionary tale, "The Nubian's Boy."
One element that links these various stories together much more effectively than Felix does is sex. So much friggin' sex. There's sweet sex, experimental sex, menage sex, underage sex, rape, sex with beast-like entities, sex with robots, and so on and so forth. Some of these scenes are written well. Some are even hot. Most are neither. The author seems to favor old school sexual terminology, so there is more than one "tumescence" or "sword of desire" that crops up over the course of the book. So mostly, the sex is just awkward. And plentiful. By the end of the book, most of the characters have had multiple partners, and just about everyone has had Felix in one way or another.
For the most part, I don't feel like Felixitations accomplishes the author's goals. The collection fails to form a cohesive whole, and yet most of the individual stories don't stand alone well, either. The end result is a confusing, frustrating mess. Ultimately, it doesn't seem worth the effort to slog through all the disappointing and bewildering stories in this book just to get to the few real gems.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on June 21, 2012 :
This was a hauntingly beautiful novel of a soul who repeatedly reincarnates from generation to generation for thousands of years. The unique aspect of this soul is that it always comes back as the same person. How "Felix" works his magic on each generation is a wonderful thing to behold. I'm a writer myself, but I'm not so sure I could've weaved the multiple themes and characters together as Roger Kean has. It's a memorable novel and one you will not regret purchasing and reading. Thank you Mr. Kean--I'll be keeping an eye out for more of your writings.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on May 28, 2012 :
This is a mosaic novel, displaying a dazzling array of settings and styles. Several threads run through it and keep all the elements building toward a fascinating and compelling conclusion.
Several things stood out as I savored this novel. There is a wealth of finely observed details, made all the more impressive by the diverse times and locations of the stories. The action scenes were truly outstanding, reminding me of the best adventure novels. Characters have very distinctive voices, and the writing style is brilliantly varied to reflect the time period of several stories. Descriptions are vivid. There is sex, but there is even more heart.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It will linger in my memory.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on April 04, 2012 :
Strangely haunting, this unusually constructed novel leaves a trail of lasting impressions. Its many individual chapters careen through many timeframes and locations but are firmly connected by the ever-present Felix in his many guises, and subtly interwoven family and name connections create a mysterious sense of ‘meaning’ which is difficult to shake off.
Make no mistake, this is an entertaining gay read, but is more than the sum of its parts and therefore intensely satisfying: vivid personalities in intriguing situations, emotions great and small blended with (explicit) erotic action add up to an ultimately moving rollercoaster ride of gay sensibilities – good and sometimes bad – through the ages.
A read to remember… it actually managed to bring unexpected tears to my eyes. With so much already told, there must be plenty more lives to explore – bring on a sequel!
(reviewed the day of purchase)