Wednesday, September 21, 2011

REVIEW: The Incident by Xavier Axelson

The Incident is a powerful read – a book that is full of human drama and extremes of emotion. There is a romance here, and some brief scenes of eroticism, but this is really the story of how we cope with pain and loss.

I won't go into detail regarding the incident in question, except to say it is a powerful image, and definitely explains for Officer Michael's issues, even if it doesn't entirely justify his escape into the bottle. I'm not overly forgiving of characters who use addictions as a crutch to avoid their issues, and I had initially trouble seeing beyond Michael's miserable self-pitying.

What ultimately redeemed him was his friendship with his partner, Angel. I really liked Angel, and that made me want to see Michael recover . . . to become worthy of his best friend's love. It's an odd way to approach a character's dilemma, but sometimes strength really does come from outside ourselves.

The budding romance between them definitely came across as awkward, but entirely realistic. Here we have two macho, professional, self-reliant individuals who live and work in a culture that does not allow for weakness, much less sentimentality. They make some strange choices, and their erotic scenes quickly move from tentative to exhibitionistic, but, again, I think that's realistic. Michael has reached an absolute low, and Angel is not just his dream-come-true, but his salvation - for their romance to be anything but desperate and awkward would have been to invalidate their struggles.

An odd mix of genres and subjects, perhaps, but an original one that works very well.

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