Gay Fiction by Alan Keslian

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Chiswick House

From “Goodreads”

Mark, gay, is in his thirties, a computer specialist working on the support team of a prestigious London firm of accountants. Unsurprisingly in such a stuffy firm he is not out about being gay, although he is other elsewhere open about his sexuality. He is a rising star in the firm and a favourite of Peter, the ambitious young partner who enlists Mark’s help in his campaign against “the old codgers”, the stuffy reactionary older partners. Soon Mark is promoted to head his department, but when office politics begin to threaten any hopes of a peaceful life Mark is ready to look elsewhere for employment.

He does not need to look far, the opportunity is there waiting for him. Through his new boyfriend, Tom, he has met Tom’s friend and benefactor the older Andrew, gay owner of a local garden centre with a sideline in property development. Andrew had already suggested to Mark that the dilapidated Goodmans Villa, a large Victorian semi-detached house would make an ideal gay hotel. Mark decides now is the time to take up the offer.

Mark takes us through his rise within the firm of accountants, his meeting with Tom and Andrew, and the eventual opening of the hotel. It is not until halfway through the story does Mark get to open his hotel, and much of the lead up to that centres on his work with long passages about his work and computing, although not entirely. There is the charming encounter with George, about twenty years, the slightly retarded son of the hotel proprietress in France, who open-mindedly is happy to allow his fraternisation with Mark. We also discover how he meets Tom, Mark’s complete opposite, the rough speaking relatively uneducated electrician/plumber, and follow their up and down relationship. Then there is Darren, the delightful eighteen year old runaway waif, one of the existing tenants of Goodmans Villa and who stays on to be taken under Mark’s protective wing.

There are a few amusing episodes involving guests at Goodmans Hotel, and a few more dangerous incidents Mark finds himself involved in. But against the background of all that happens over two of three years of Mark’s tale we follow Mark’s relationship with Tom. A love affair but not without problems, while they are open with each other it eventually comes out that there is something Tom has kept back, when it comes out Mark worries about its implications, can he continue the relationship?

This is a generally good read, it does get somewhat bogged down in the first half with rather too much talk of computers and work politics, but that is offset to an extent with Mark and Tom’s growing relationship. Matters do improve considerably in the second half of the book. The main characters are very appealing: Mark himself is very likeable, open and fair-minded, Tom’s rough gentleness is endearing, Andrew is a thoughtful and caring man, and young Darren is a beauty in his spindly teenage gawkiness and enchanting manner. -Bembo,Goodreads

Readers comments from Bibiotastic

On “A Gay Humanist Manifesto”

29/5/11 Hey serious stuff but well thought out and well argued. I wonder about the section of the quotes cos I think u are also arguing a bigger picture of theories of evolution. But way to go and hope u find fulfilment in life :) - “yeomanie”

Comments: I really enjoyed your story…..very gay positive and somewhat realistic….the characters are did a great job bringing them to life.- dandress1

Dear Alan,
You’re a real story-teller—with the skill to say exactly what you want with exactly the right number of the most apt words so that the reader has no feeling that he is reading, more experiencing the situation. I’m an impatient reader and skip over descriptions and details to get to the plot. Yet this story has no obvious plot. It’s simply a few years in the life and loves of a thirty-something man with whom I’d probably not have much in common. Not the sort of thing that would normally hold my interest. And yet I read every word about the daily life of this somewhat priggish fellow. I did decide to stop reading after his reaction when he learned about Tom’s past, but then was drawn back and read on, and I’m glad I did. As you write: ‘Families are just the result of basic animal instinct…dressed up as some kind of morally sound purpose in life…..[but] how many would you volunteer to be in? So true, so true. As you say, better to live with friends with whom you have things in common than be tied to people simply because you’re related. Thanks for a very satisfying and pleasant read. - Rigby

Great read. The characters are so well depicted that you actually feel they are known to you. Good flowing story, easy to read. - a6spd

From Nil,

I started reading your story about an hour ago and I have just finished reading chapter 2. It is almost five in the morning and there are still twelve chapters more. I really don’t know when I’ll go to bed. But I need to finish it. I am hooked. It is very well written, the pace is wonderful, the plot is exciting, the characters are so alive I can almost touch them.

Darren is old enough to make decisions about medical check ups. Especially considering this check up might be very embarassing, and especially since we’re talking about very personal matters, then it might have been a better idea for Mark, instead of discussing that behind Darren’s back, to tell Darren about the possibility of him to consider meeting a doctor, and certainly not try to push this idea further more than it being a suggestion. Neither Mark, Andrew nor Tom have the ability to force him into seeing any kind of professional. I believe in the UK, the law is that medical decisions are to be taken by the person themself after the age of fourteen years old if that person has not been considered unfit.‘

The story is still very good, though it becomes unclear that Darren is an adult and in his own right to regent his own life, whether or not he lives under Mark’s roof. Again it is very unusual and especially illegal for Mark to go inside of his room if his intention isn’t purely for changing the sheets and cleaning the place, since it is a hotel, after all. Foundling around the dresser becomes an invasion of privacy - we’re still talking about an eighteen years old man, an adult, and also a client to the hotel, not a fourteen years old kid under Mark’s custody. The law asks for every disappearances to be reported forty-eight hours after the last time the person have been seen, and it will be the police, with the regular court ruling, who will open the door to the missing person’s personal living area and try to find clues about where the person might be. Then there also is a bigger problem with Mark and privacy violation, which, even though it is not exactly illegal, might ruin any kind of relationship he has with Darren, along with any kind of relationship Darren might entertain with Tom and Andrew, and it is to tell whatever has been said by Darren to Tom and Andrew. Unless Darren talks about it himself, Mark should have had the decency to keep this discussion under the secret of confidences. We are talking about things that are very private and even humiliating, what with Darren being drugged and raped, something that requires complete discretion, if you are a friend at all. Some people commit suicide over things like that being spreaded to the person’s entourage because they can’t handle the humiliation of their sexual submission being known from them. Rape is not a simple issue. So all in all, the pace is still very good, the catharsis is almost unbreakeable, if we don’t count these little mistakes which makes this chapter especially unrealistic. That aside, you probably have one of the best pens on the whole site.

They’re your mum and dad. You ought to go back to see them sometime.’ Hmmm… nope. Why? This is quite intrusive and not based on reality. When one feels unwanted somewhere, it is disrespectful to imply that they should want to see these people again. A friend just let them talk and make their own introspections by themselves. It would add more credibility to the scene. ‘mum and dad’, really? How about mother and father? Your level of writing should let go of baby talk, especially with the kind of professional that Mark is, and his horor for misused language.

Please consider my comment as constructive, far away from me the idea of criticizing your story for no reason. If I didn’t like your story, I would probably haven’t sent a review.

Okay, now I’m finished. Absolutely fantastic story. Of course I had to find some things that I found to be unrealistic, as I explained in my review of chapter 10. I am also wondering why you made it seem as though the rape incident went away just the same way as it came. People who are raped are usually facing psychological issues, mood swings especially, difficulty to open up to the people surrounding them, need to constantly be left alone. Apart from the moments after the event, it seems that Darren forgets way too easily what has happened to him. So yes, I found some little mistakes, of course, in my own opinion, though generally, this is a must read at all cost story. Thanks for sharing your talent and extraordinary pen with us all. - Nil,


gay humanist manifesto

This just became available on the Online Books new listings page today [28 Feb 2012]. Congrats to all concerned. I’m bisexual and run a webpage: LOVE - NOT WAR []  We are on the same wavelength.

Goodreads Review - Mara Ismine

"Closer Than Breathing - A Light Gay Odyssey"

My copy was bought from the GLBT Bookshelf September Rummage Sale

I enjoyed the everyday life of Ben and his understated romance with Dale. The romance element was not the main focus of the story. There are a lot of things going on in Ben’s life, nothing too extraordinary but he does find himself in some odd situations.

I liked the way that Ben’s sense of humour is often misunderstood and makes people wary. And his internal debates about complaining about his noisy neighbours. I’m sure I know people just like Ben. I think it is a very British tale.

The ending was rather abrupt, but other than that it was a good read.


A Gay Humanist Manifesto … I found it sets out the essence of Humanism and the gay experience in a very accessible and readable way.

Malcolm Trahearn

A Breathless Story

 I found your story to be well written, a pleasant read, and eminently suitable for Codey’s World.  I am pleased to accept your story, and ask that you keep us in mind as a possible home for other works of yours.  Good work!
                                                                      Submissions Editor

There’s some clever repartee here, and Ben is an engaging character. I loved the line about a “cutting edge” antiquarian book store! It’s not often that an author can bring a smile to my lips while reading. - Max Griffin -

This is a thoroughly entertaining read. - Lord (Chris) Smith of Finsbury

It had never occurred to me to run a gay B & B, and now it is too late, but this cautionary and amusing tale gives me an idea of what I may have missed. - Ned Sherrin (producer & broadcaster)

So well written and polished with down to earth dialogue and smooth prose! Can straight people stay at Goodman’s Hotel? -

Of the many volumes of fiction I’ve had, this must rank as one of the most interesting reads. Alan Keslian’s style is smooth and unforced, employing a minimum of artificial device, whilst unequivocally identifying itself as the work of a highly literate individual. The cover is classy yet welcoming, an open door inviting you into a story that wastes no time on gimmickry. No padding here, no unnecessary verbiage. - Deborah Fisher – Tregolwyn, UK

I bought this book (Goodmans Hotel) after seeing a flyer. What I found particularly refreshing was that this was no “ordinary” gay novel. It has a good plot, and an excellent mixture of humour, sadness and realism, while leaving all the sexual encounters very much to the imagination. All in all, a very plausible plot and a very readable novel.

The cast of characters – the accountant, the electrician, the gardener, the waif, the boys from the North – confound once and for all the idea that there are such things as gay stereotypes. In doing this the book reveals its greatest quality – its truth to life. In this perceptive novel ordinary human decency is a greater source of happiness in life, whether gay or straight, than searing passion. Graham Robertson – Cardiff, UK

This is an interesting story. Characters come alive as you read. Dialgoue is another strength. It’s effortless and to the point. Not an action packed story, this may not be for everyone but I enjoyed reading it a lot. - Burgio –