Monday, May 18, 2009

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

The Gargoyle is undoubtedly the most unique and fascinating book I've read in a long time. I just LOVED it! In many ways I felt as though the author had written this book with me in mind. It seemed that every page revealed some other little element that just so happens to be something that interests, fascinates or intrigues me - books, libraries, librarians, Illuminated texts, the middle ages, gargoyles, Galileo, time travel and even my phobia of snakes shows up as a metaphor for the narrator's pain. *cue Twilight Zone music.*

The Gargoyle tells the story of the nameless narrator, a cynical and self-absorbed pornographer and drug addict, who is severely burned in a car crash. Soon his friends and associates stop visiting him and he loses his business. However, during his long recovery in the burn unit, he is visited by an alluring, though obviously unstable, sculptress who claims that they were lovers in a past life. Marianne Engel continues to visit the narrator during his hospital stay and regales him with stories of their past life and other ancient legends of undying love. Eventually the narrator is released to Marianne's care and he finds himself, for the first time in his life, growing to care about someone other than himself. In time, Marianne's instability becomes more pronounced and the narrator find himself becoming her caregiver. But during her lucid moments, Marianne continues to weave her story of past life and love. A story that the narrator finds interesting, but that he does not believe to be true. And all the while he is desperately trying to save Marianne from her increasingly severe madness.

Andrew Davidson is a master storyteller. He skillfully teases the reader with the slow unfolding of Marianne's story of past life and love. I found myself, much like the narrator, anxious to hear the next "chapter" in her story. In addition, the other ancient legends, which are woven into the narrative, are then cleverly tied into the present with incredible deftness. Awesome. Being that the book was so brilliant, unique and fascinating, I was expecting some equally clever ending. While it wasn't as jaw droppingly unique as I was expecting, it was still very good. And it does leave the reader wondering and questioning. It's one of those books where you immediately want to ask someone else who has read the book - "what do you think THAT was all about?" I LOVE when that happens in a book. And it doesn't happen all that often. So, if you've read this already or are planning on reading it, I'd love to hear what you think.

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1 comment:

  1. I just finished The Gargoyle. The main character is more sympathetic than the reviews would lead you to believe. He's not a bad guy, he's in trouble due to some stupid actions that really hurt only himself.

    Is the book fantasy? A story of delusion? When something uncanny happens in a story, I say it's one of the three "M"s - mystery, by human agency; magic, a fantasy or science fiction story, or madness, a tale of delusion, perhaps by the "unreliable narrator" beloved of E.A. Poe and others.

    Normally I insist on knowing, at least by the end, whether I am reading a ghost story, a mystery or a tale of madenss, but this was so well-written I did not care. I found it such a good read I was reminded of The Life of Pi, where the narrator spins an incredible yarn and a more commonplace one, and asks "Which did you like better?" Four stars!


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