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King of Cats A Life in Five Novellas is a tough novel to review without giving away all the secrets that make it such a fascinating, challenging and engrossing trip through the world of rock n roll, a trip most of us can only dream about What author Blake Fraina manages to do in 236 pages is to create a vivid world, to conjure up an almost fairytale mythology of a band on the rise And then she does what any good writer would do she shatters all of our fantasies, all our preconceptions abou King of Cats A Life in Five Novellas is a tough novel to review without giving away all the secrets that make it such a fascinating, challenging and engrossing trip through the world of rock n roll, a trip most of us can only dream about What author Blake Fraina manages to do in 236 pages is to create a vivid world, to conjure up an almost fairytale mythology of a band on the rise And then she does what any good writer would do she shatters all of our fantasies, all our preconceptions about the rock and roll superstar we ve just become smitten with, the impossibly beautiful star who, even though he s a bit of a bad boy, manages to make us weak in the knees The author strips away all the intoxicating glamor and the pretty facades Sometimes she does it gently Sometime she just rips the band aid off without any warning at all But the tool that Fraina uses to do this is real life She picks at her characters and shows you the real people behind the stars And then she even makes you question how real the real person is As the publisher s summary states What makes a person fascinating Is it what they hide or what they reveal It s a question that Fraina asks and then gives hints about, but she never quite answers it, waiting for the reader, ultimately, to make up their minds about the characters she has created.Now, I have to say, this novel is not going to be everyone s cup of tea It can, at times, be a tough read Let s just say that if you are looking for a typical romance boy meets boy, boy gets boy, boy and boy move to California to get married you will be sorely disappointed If your tastes runto the authentic version of life, perhaps something along the lines of messed up boy meets messed up boy, boy gets boy, boy doesn t want boy but can t break away, then this may be the book for you There is a strong sense of realism woven into this story and like real life, sometimes it just ain t pretty For me, it was fascinating from beginning to end Originally reviewed for Uniquely Pleasurable (((E-PUB))) ☂ King of Cats: A Life in Five Novellas ⇰ What makes a person fascinating Is it what they hide or what they reveal Is it who they are or who they appear to be A struggling filmmaker believes he recognizes the face of a man in an old painting and becomes obsessed with finding him On the cusp of his band s success, a closeted guitarist walks out on his longtime male lover to live with a woman he hardly knows After spending one fateful night in bed together, two youthful musicians enter into a bitter and emotionally devastating power struggle for control over their band and one another And eight years later, tragedy forces both men to confront the inescapable and bitter legacy of their fathers influence Peopled with vivid characters and told in sharp dialogue, the five stories that comprise King of Cats tell the provocative, sometimes heartbreaking story of luminous, enigmatic rock star Jimmy Strange Lyons Weaving back and forth through time, from a tenement in Alphabet City to a luxury co op overlooking Central Park to a semi detached in North London, Jimmy s life unfolds like a mystery, gradually revealing his secrets and exposing the vast gulf that often lies between what appears to be and what is Rating 3 of five, all for writingI don t like Jimmy, our POV character, at all Elliott makes me want to screech imprecations at him for being such a wussy Adam annoys me, clueless hopeless wet Adam who can t figure out why he gets what he wants and then doesn t want it.That said, Blake Fraina has written a well crafted tale about people I hate like fury, and I think that s a good sign This is a novel about the ways in which we humans fail to connect with ourselves Adam, Elliott or each ot Rating 3 of five, all for writingI don t like Jimmy, our POV character, at all Elliott makes me want to screech imprecations at him for being such a wussy Adam annoys me, clueless hopeless wet Adam who can t figure out why he gets what he wants and then doesn t want it.That said, Blake Fraina has written a well crafted tale about people I hate like fury, and I think that s a good sign This is a novel about the ways in which we humans fail to connect with ourselves Adam, Elliott or each other Jim, all the women in the book with special emphasis on Amy , and what dire, horrible consequences that has in our lives No one in this book is aware that being happy is a possibility, though Elliott is relentlessly chipper It might look similar, but it s not the same.The five stories of the book intertwine nicely, not leading into and out of each other so much as flowing inevitably and circuitously from each other s strongest and weakest points The weakest story in the bunch is the last one, Hidden History, because it of them all feels narrated, told, presented ex post facto, not lived before one s eyes as the others do.I d say the gay sexual content is sufficiently integral to the stories told that all but the most squeamish straight people should be able to read these hymns to dysfunction and its power without issue I would encourage people in my Boomer generation to read the stories because, honestly, we just don t hear what Fraina s saying to us often enough Actions have consequences, emotions have their own lives, and even the ones we leave are still with us As an avid reader of gay themed books, always complaining in my reviews about the lack of quality in most of the stuff I read, I was sent a free copy and asked by the author to read and review this work.Truth to be told, quality did I get, definitely, but I still do not deem myself satisfied.The novel s structure, as already underlined by other reviewers, is peculiar instead of alternating present and flashbacks as it is customary, Fraina neatly splits the storyline in five different episodes a As an avid reader of gay themed books, always complaining in my reviews about the lack of quality in most of the stuff I read, I was sent a free copy and asked by the author to read and review this work.Truth to be told, quality did I get, definitely, but I still do not deem myself satisfied.The novel s structure, as already underlined by other reviewers, is peculiar instead of alternating present and flashbacks as it is customary, Fraina neatly splits the storyline in five different episodes and displays them in an order that is not chronological but has an inner logic, the last one functioningor less as an epilogue but being in fact the one set farther back in time as well as summarizing the essential theme of the novel in the last line, said theme being essentially things are not necessarily as they look.The plot revolves around the character of Jim but he is often looked at through the eyes of the people close to him and to whom belong the POV they also play a meaningful role in the novel itself.A critical reviewer accused the author of being pretentious and there could be truth in this accusation The novel structure, plot and characters are clearly the result of an effort to make a theme as conspicuous and proven as possible but, as always in fine arts, much study and lack of spontaneity can be as much a criticism as a praise.All that said and acknowledged, not everything runs smoothly in this literary attempt fine literature being clearly the target here, not the simple fun of romance.First and foremost there is a steady decline in writing proficiency as the novel moves on, the first section being the best and the last being the worst While in the first section the omniscient narrator is only there to allow us access in the character s thoughts, allowing us to understand them, in the last one he takes over, telling us what happens and what everybody thinks instead of letting us see for ourselves This predicament may have arisen from the fact that while the first section nearly catches events as they happen, in real time, so to say, the following ones encompass an increasingly large timespan, the last one covering several years.The writing also loses focus as pages flow by It is always neat but gradually becomes less sharp and insightful.This might be due also to the fact that, while in the first section the POV is always that of Sam, in the following ones there are progressivelyof them and this detracts instead of adding to the depth of the writing.Editing also seems to go downhill it may depend on the convertion PDFMOBI but the number of typos gradually increases till we are even treated with their and your instead of they re and you re This struck me as outlandish in a work that can be criticised but cannot be accused of superficiality.Above I tried to be as objective as possible, now I will go into detail as to why this novel had little or no appeal to me.The reason why I usually read M M romances is that I wish to escape No escape is possible here and obviously it is a matter of taste whether you will like this work or not.The analogy that struck me a few pages into the book was with David Leavitt Not that this work is derivative in any way, it is just the atmosphere that is similar it is a shabby world where nothing is what it should, no one is what he could or would it is a world lighted by the obnoxious and rather dirty neon tubes of a suburban underground station Life is depicted in all his squalor, feelings are always tainted.It is not that I see the world as a happy place where deplorable incidents happen occasionally.I am well aware of humanity s shortcomings in every respect but to make a detailed description of them worthwhile for the reader, the author really needs to be great A symphony of grays has to be achieved, delicately nuanced by a language that can be either lyrical or harsh but has to be polished to the point of perfection Our author writes well but he is not THAT good neither was Leavitt, despite the critical acclaim he enjoyed in his time.Fraina also takes things one step further than Leavitt Not a single character in the whole book is fuctional Not the main character, for reasons that are clearly told, and not anybody he comes across.Is this really possible It is true that disfunctional people tend to move in circles as disfunctional as themselves but a sense of gloom permeates every page of the novel making it oppressive Take Lisa or Amy who, at first, look normal The omniscient narrator takes us into their thoughts until everything we see there is ugly Everyone in the real world has ugly thoughts, of course, some peoplethan others, but why displaying only those As another reviewer pointed out, happiness is possible.Perhaps happiness is not really and always possible, but this novel is imbalanced in that there is only gloom and dirt and unfulfillment.This is especially true for the four mains.Sam seems a regular guy at first but then he meets Elliot and Elliot really functions as a catalyst of evil for him as he does for everyone else Sam turns despondent, insecure, violent He probably was all of that all along, but had managed to functionor less normally until the fateful meeting with him This could be considered a good plot device but if it is intentional it is also rather ill motivated Even with the help of the omniscient narrator I do not get to see how it is possible for Sam to be influenced that way, to become that obsessed It is true that as people we develop over the course of years until a single event is capable of unleashing a storm, but I saw nothing of that storm coming and nothing of how Elliot manages to give vent to it.The section about Sam and Elliot, the first and best of all, seems to serve as an introduction to the character of Jim, clearly an avatar of the King of Cats , a disquieting painting relevant to every line ot said section While I think I can see its importance it also seemed too long to me for the character of Sam to disappear entirely from the rest of the novel It might be that this first section formally recalls the epilogue where once again important characters appear who are absent elsewhere Amy, Jim s parents, the first band s members and Jim s cat, Nellie, one of the cats Jim might be considered king of but it disturbed me to invest so much in a character only to see him disappear suddenly.Elliot for his part is utterly questionable He really is disfunctional, manipulative, selfish, greedy I do not really know what Fraina expected us to make of him if to pity or despise him I expected a background for his mis behaviour as there is one for Jim, extensive, and for Adam, brief None is given therefore I did not understand why he was that villainous and how in the world three people, even messed up, could fall for his blatant tricks Jim s final realisation of how wicked he is leads to the accident that gets everybody rid of him But then again, once Elliot is gone Jim realizes how much he loved him Sorry, Mr Fraina, you really lost me there.Jim and Adam were better rounded, of course I will not go into detail not to give away the plot as another reviewer justly said, there is little plot and much character development, in this novel but one thing I could not stomach It is commonplace and common sense to say that people are wont to suffer for their traumas for their whole life but here there seems to be, once again, no redemption for them.I am not talking of a happily ever after as it is clear from the start that our author does not intend to give us one But people usually adjust They compromise their dreams and aspirations and often they manage a tolerable life Sometimes a good one Not Jim or Adam After letting us hope they could somehow get over the worst, Fraina plunges them deeper It happens, sometimes, I know But I do not have to like it Especially not if this it happens in the fourth section is delivered hurriedly with not a drop of at least literary beauty.As you see, some of my doubts about this work depend on matters of pure taste what does not work for me could be perfectly fine for others as the five star reviews testify Guess you shall have to read it for yourself If you re looking for a heart and flowers gay romance, you re barking up the wrong tree with The King of Cats If you want a well written, disquieting, ugly, beautiful life story, then Jimmy Strange is your man Only, it won t be easy to get to know him It will be a painful struggle, much like his life He s charming, he s gifted, he s elusive All part of the author s devious plan to unravel a life.The structure of this novel is very unique, and can be difficult to adapt to at first Five no If you re looking for a heart and flowers gay romance, you re barking up the wrong tree with The King of Cats If you want a well written, disquieting, ugly, beautiful life story, then Jimmy Strange is your man Only, it won t be easy to get to know him It will be a painful struggle, much like his life He s charming, he s gifted, he s elusive All part of the author s devious plan to unravel a life.The structure of this novel is very unique, and can be difficult to adapt to at first Five novellas is a trifle misleading Each is a chapter in the life of Jimmy Strange, but they are not chronological, nor are they always directly about him Often, we learnabout a person through the people they know and Fraina makes good use of this The first novella takes place in 2002, where we meet a not very likeable British chap who starts a liaison with a young man named Elliott Elliott is not all he appears to be and I quickly felt like I had fallen down the rabbit hole To top it off, Jimmy doesn t even appear until the last couple of paragraphs But, what we learn about Elliot is integral to understanding Jimmy Each novella does the same in a different way introducing first Elliot, then Lisa, then Adam, in a weaving path to get to Jimmy It begins in 2002, jumps to back to 2001, then further back to 1995 before ending in the present of 2003 But, we are not left there The last novella gives readers what most biographies give us in the beginning the beginning In 1987, we finally learn the uncomfortable story of Jimmy s childhood and how it shaped him And, the impact will leave readers stunned Sure, this book could have been put in chronological order, but that is not how we meet people in real life We learn about them from themselves, we learn about them from others, and rarely in sequence So, the style is ideal and implemented flawlessly.There is sex in the story How could there not be Sex, drugs and Rock n Roll Jimmy is a musician and he has the stereotypical musician s life, at least on the surface But, the sex is not gratuitous It has an influence on this story, on this life, and it is often not the least bit erotic It can be hot, butoften leaves the reader feeling unsettled As happens to people who aren t certain about the sexual choices they ve made, like Jimmy.The writing in the book deserves five stars, hands down It was obviously edited with care, and the writing was smooth I continued to think about the book long after I finished the last page But I gave it four stars for a reason, albeit a personal one Jimmy Strange s life is almost too real This is not a feel good book There is no happily ever after, there is only living So, while the book was incredibly engaging and undeniably genuine, I was not satisfied at the end I was left sad, because this life may very well exist for someone out there, and I want them, wanted Jimmy, to be happy I highly recommend The King of Cats to those looking for a thought provoking, sometimes harsh, sometimes disjointed, but always honest look at life I m glad I read it But, those that need a happily every after will be quickly disillusioned Although this book is not perfect there are POV changes which would normally turn me off they weren t serious enough to diminish the impact it had on me and it definitely deserves a five star rating.This is not an actual book but rather five novellas which give snapshots into the life of Jimmy Lyons The novellas are not in chronological order, going from the fall of 2002, spring 2001, winter 1995, summer 2003, and finally ending in 1987 It may seem like ordering the stories in this way cou Although this book is not perfect there are POV changes which would normally turn me off they weren t serious enough to diminish the impact it had on me and it definitely deserves a five star rating.This is not an actual book but rather five novellas which give snapshots into the life of Jimmy Lyons The novellas are not in chronological order, going from the fall of 2002, spring 2001, winter 1995, summer 2003, and finally ending in 1987 It may seem like ordering the stories in this way could be confusing, but it s actually why they pack such an emotional punch It was like having a group of people putting pieces of a puzzle together until finally the full picture emerges and we know who Jimmy is and where he came from.The fact that the stories didn t have a happy ending made them refreshing to read I ve had my fill of cookie cutter m m romance stories that leave me with a sugar high from all their sweetness The characters here are human, with all their flaws At times I found myself hating them, then in the next moment I was crying for them I won t be forgetting these characters any time soon Sex, drugs, rock roll and Jimmy Lyons A very well crafted look into the whirlwind life of a stunningly beautiful British expat living in NYC The five novellas which tell Jimmy s and his acquaintances stories are indeed so well written that even their quirky and often annoying characteristics become acceptable and even endearing as we get to know them Jimmy is something of an innocent and comes to terms with his being gay, beautiful and a talented guitarist much like we get comfortable with Sex, drugs, rock roll and Jimmy Lyons A very well crafted look into the whirlwind life of a stunningly beautiful British expat living in NYC The five novellas which tell Jimmy s and his acquaintances stories are indeed so well written that even their quirky and often annoying characteristics become acceptable and even endearing as we get to know them Jimmy is something of an innocent and comes to terms with his being gay, beautiful and a talented guitarist much like we get comfortable with a new pair of shoes or residence The universal need for love and affection is woven throughout but only tentatively romantic as is often the case for the modern.Life as an expat can be difficult enough, being one myself at various locations around the world, and with added baggage from a dysfunctional childhood all the characters share this it seems and struggling musician in Jimmy s case, makes for a good read At times sweet and lovely and others horrible and tragic I feel this would make a wonderful mini series for television I d watch it certainly This novel five related novellas, really is very well written I didn t like any of the characters at first, but it is a testament to the author s skill that I still wanted to keep reading and, ultimately, I came to understand and even like them Even when they were doing some fairly horrible things The characters are real, three dimensional people and the author manages to visit some familiar ground in unfamiliar ways, avoiding cliches along the way The result is a book that is heartbreakin This novel five related novellas, really is very well written I didn t like any of the characters at first, but it is a testament to the author s skill that I still wanted to keep reading and, ultimately, I came to understand and even like them Even when they were doing some fairly horrible things The characters are real, three dimensional people and the author manages to visit some familiar ground in unfamiliar ways, avoiding cliches along the way The result is a book that is heartbreaking and that will stay with me for a long time.There were a few flaws with the novel The first of the novellas is the weakest it doesn t fit as well into the fabric as the others And in several of the scenes the point of view shifts back and forth between characters in a way I found distracting Finally, I feel the female characters who are secondary but important aren t as well fleshed out as the males.Overall, however, I enjoyed the book very much and will eagerly seekof this author s work I first read this book 8 years ago in 2006, wow and have to say that King of Cats is one of the top handful of stories that has stayed with me throughout the years especially the charismatic, strange Elliott On a whole, the storytelling style is inventive and engaging The chronology is well crafted and introduces the reader to its protagonist Jimmy Lyons in a very natural and authentic sort of way King of Cats a raw and captivating story of attachments, obsession, and love It is defini I first read this book 8 years ago in 2006, wow and have to say that King of Cats is one of the top handful of stories that has stayed with me throughout the years especially the charismatic, strange Elliott On a whole, the storytelling style is inventive and engaging The chronology is well crafted and introduces the reader to its protagonist Jimmy Lyons in a very natural and authentic sort of way King of Cats a raw and captivating story of attachments, obsession, and love It is definitely a gem within the queer literature genre Elliott is a complex and beautifully written character, as memorable as my select favorites in literature A lovely, well wrought story.