"In the autobiographical novel, The Story of a Bad Boy, Thomas Bailey Aldrich recounts his adventures when he was a boy growing up in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in the 1840s. And now along comes Charles Reis Felix with Tony: A New England Boyhood, an autobiographical novel about growing up in Gaw (New Bedford), Massachusetts, in the 1930s, almost a century later. But there are sharp differences between the two novels. Instead of a Yankee in a small town, we have a Portuguese boy, Tony Alfama, in an industrial city. Felix presents a rounded-out picture of Tony. You see Tony at home with his mother. You see him with the gang on the street. You see him at school. You see him looking for work in the last chapter. But most of all you see him with his best friend Lommy as they explore the city, doing things that require no money: watching a baseball game, watching girls bowl at the bowling alley, watching girls sunbathe at Lindamar Beach, watching the vaudeville acts on a Saturday night from the doorway of Cozy s Cafe, watching the hula-hula dancers and "the only living her-MAW-phro-dite in the world" give short demonstrations at the carnival. Raging hormones play a major role in the novel. Tony and Lommy are drawn to the eternal magnet of woman. Determined to have a sexual experience, they set out on a quest to find a girl or woman who will accommodate them. When they finally find her lying on the sand of Lindamar Beach one dark night, it does not end the way they had expected. With unblinking honesty, Felix examines a life lived. He recaptures a time and place in history that is receding ever more distant from us. The argument could be made that the second main character in the novel is the city of Gaw itself. Despite his seriousness, Felix is playful at times and manages to find humor in many situations." (TONY: A NEW ENGLAND BOYHOOD. New Bedford: Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 2008).
- Crossing the Sauer:A memoir of World War II (2002)
- Through a Portagee Gate (2004)
- Da Gama, Cary Grant, and the Election of 1934 (2005)
- Tony: A New England Boyhood (2008)
Charles Reis Felix was born in New Bedford, Mass., one of four children of Portuguese immigrant parents. He attended local public schools and graduated from New Bedford High in 1941. He studied at the University of Michigan from 1941-43, at which time he was drafted into the U.S. Army. After the war he received a B.A. in history from Stanford University, and became an elementary school teacher. Married, with two grown children, he lives with his wife Barbara in a cabin among the redwoods of Northern California. His first published book, Crossing the Sauer (Burford Books, 2002), an account of his experience as a combat infantryman in WWII, was hailed by Paul Fussell, author of The Great War and Modern Memory, as "one of the most honest, unforgettable memoirs of the war I’ve read." His second book, a memoir entitled Through a Portagee Gate, is a remarkably honest self-portrait and an endearing tribute to the author s father, a Portuguese immigrant cobbler who came to America in 1915. In his third book, the novel entitled Da Gama, Cary Grant, and the Election of 1934 (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 2005), Felix returns to an immigrant community in Massachusetts much like the one in Through a Portagee Gate.