Axelson, Xavier. “The Birches”, Seventh Window Publications , 2011.
Striving for Perfection
I remember my father telling me to strive for perfection but learn to make peace with mediocrity. Of course, he would have never accepted my being mediocre and to him, life was about the quest for perfection. Leo, the character in Axelson’s new book is also a perfectionist. He is driven by not just being the best but being perfect. He wants to be the perfect chef and while perfection is an ideal, it is one that s not easily reached and Leo’s drive also drives his friends and family to the edge. It also made love almost impossible because there is always someone a bit better, a tad more perfect.
Finally Leo is able to see that his goals are not realistic but it took his meeting Dock for that to happen. The new and happening restaurant, The Birches, belongs to Doc and it is very successful despite the fact that Dock has not been trained as a chef. Nevertheless, he supervises and does the cooking. Leo loves the food there and also harbors a crush on Dock but even more important than that, Leo learns that he has set his goals to high.
If you have read Axelson, you know that he is a master of the erotic and he does not slack off here. In fact, he uses the kitchen for more than cooking and gives us a wonderfully romantic story with two very real characters. I am not really a big fan of erotic literature but every once in a while, I will pick up a book that is classified as such. I must say that this is one on the best that I have read in quite a while and the reason for that is because Xavier Axelson is a great storyteller. Here the story supersedes everything else and I think that is because it is so real. We all know a character like Leo, or some of us might even be “Leos” and I have always found that being able to identify with a character is a way to discover what makes a good read. This is more than just a good read, it is a mighty fine one and I suggest that you get a copy.