The Gargoyle

By: Andrew Davidson
Published by: Doubleday, 2008
(Now available in paperback and Kindle)

The "word on the street" about The Gargoyle is that it's a brilliant book by an original voice.

Very true!

Within the first few pages, Davidson had written a description of an automobile accident, and the burning of the victim, that literally was impossible to read, and impossible not to.

I kept stopping and looking at the wall to dredge up the courage to keep reading.

The protagonist of the story is a porn actor who is horribly burned in a car accident, with the ultimate irony of having his penis burned off.

As he is recuperating in the hospital, he is befriended by a mental patient, one Marianne Engel, who claims to have lived for hundreds of years, starting her strange and storied odyssey as a foundling in a monastery in medieval Germany. She is convinced that our hero and she were lovers in that life.

Now, Marianne carves gargoyles. She brings our hero feasts (burn victims must eat enormous numbers of calories, as their bodies attempt to regulate temperature and repair themselves) which are described in loving detail - and made me almost as sick as the descriptions of the narrator's debridement treatments. And she slowly  weaves a fabric of stories, some of them about their previous life together, some as far-flung as Japan, Iceland, and Italy, and all of them about undying love.

When the time comes for our hero to be released from the hospital, Marianne convinces him to come home with her to her strange stone fortress, where she continues to surround him with sensual magic and her Scheherezade-like stories.

I was particularly intrigued by two of the Amazon reviews of this book. Here is one:
"Read this book. Read it. Just shut up and read it, already. Are you reading it? Why not? I told you to read it!

"But it's yucky!" you complain. "The narrator gets all burned and gross, and he's mean, and what's up with the crazy lady?"

All right, yes, I will grant you, the first few chapters are incredibly difficult to get through, particularly if you have a delicate stomach. The unnamed narrator does, indeed, get in a horrific car crash where he is terribly, almost fatally, burnt. What follows is a stomach-turningly graphic depiction of what goes on in a burn ward. Stephen King would probably turn green at some of these scenes. You will be tempted to set "The Gargoyle" down and walk away. But I'm begging you to come back. Your suffering will be rewarded."

And then this:
"The Gargoyle is the story of a drug addicted, narcissistic, cynical, self-loathing porn-star who is horribly burned in a car accident. The tale follows his recovery in a burn ward of a hospital and his nursing back to health by Marianne Engel a mental patient who claims they were lover in the Middle Ages."

Both are true. Neither is sufficient, though I do tend to find the first more accurate. You are tempted to walk away -  it is in places a painful read. And you are rewarded for forging ahead, as Davidson explores love, life, pain, purpose, suffering, redemption, insanity, literature, poetry... yeah, the whole ball of wax... all in a voice uniquely his. The world he creates is real, palpable, distressing, but nonetheless compelling.

The best thing I can say about any book is: I looked forward to reading it each day, and I thought about it long after I was finished reading.

As the Amazon reviewer said, "Read this book. Read it."

So, what are you waiting for??

Comments

Diane said…
I LOVED this book; your review was terrific!
Anonymous said…
I've always had no problems with getting internet on my computer. Now I can't connect. I've checked and everything is plugged in. I don't think it is a problem with the cables because I don't get the message "Local cable disconnected". All the other computers in my house are working fine. I think that something is wrong with the actual computer. I had a trojan (InternetSecurity2010) before that happened, maybe that has something to do with it? I've tried Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari. Other odd things are happening too...after a few hours or so none of the applications will work (iTunes, microsoft word, etc) and a lot of the words start to disappear. Likeee, the start button at the bottom left corner doesn't say start, it just is a green blob and when you click on it, it only shows the picture for each application. I've run spybot and malwarebytes scans and they both came up with nothing. I dont have any actual antivirus to run because I was in the middle of downloading Kaspersky Anti Virus when it happened and whenever I put in the code, it says that it can't download because it can't access the internet. Any ideas? [url=http://gordoarsnaui.com]santoramaa[/url]
Nancy said…
@Anonymous: I'd start with a good virus scan. Download it to another computer in your home, burn it to a disk and install it on the funky computer. If that doesn't turn up anything (it probably will), the next step for my money would be to do a restore point - back as far as you can go. But since you said you've always had some problems with this computer, you might be better off, I hate to say this, to do a clean install. Then never, never, never, never go on the Internet without a. A hardware firewall and b. Running a virus protection program. It takes literally SECONDS for attacks to commence, particularly if you have a latent (Trojan, for example) virus waiting for a signal from the outside (which will happen if you go on the Net unprotected). Let me know what happens...

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