Thursday, November 25, 2010
Review: Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Author: Andrew Davidson
Who Should Read It? This book is not for the faint of heart; it's definitely got it's extremes and does occasionally suffer from over-descriptiveness of things that you don't necessarily want to hear about, but it was SO GOOD that it's hard for me not to rant and rave that everyone over the age of 16 should read it! Except that I know that there are people that would hate it; that will need more character build up and less excruciatingly detailed descriptions of random, bizarre things.
What I Have to Say:
This book was AMAZING! Think Chuck Palahniuk meets Neil Gaiman with a little less crazy and a little less fantasy, and you've got yourself "The Gargoyle" by Andrew Davidson. This book is seriously one of the most creative, beautifully well-written, masterpieces that I have ever read. It literally felt constructed, which is not normally something I think about a book. And written down it almost sounds like a bad thing, but let me assure you, it is a perfect thing. It slowly builds up on itself until you are so interested and intrigued and "into it" that you can barely contain yourself and you just HAVE to keep reading. And then you do, and when you're done, all of guts have come together and made this elaborate, elaborately interesting, beautiful. . .well, masterpiece.
The book starts off with the description of a drugged out supposedly beautiful man suffering from a severe burn. I now know more about burns and burn victims than any non-burn victim ever should, and while it was slightly disturbing, I knew from the way Davidson had me mesmerized with his story of how a burn victim must change his bandages that I was going to love this book.
Enough with all of the descriptions, though. The Gargoyle, in essence, is a love story that dates back in time thousands of years. It is a story of love that knows no reason and has no meaning and yet has managed to survive the ages. Marianne, a sculptor of gargoyles, shows up in burn victim's room one days and claims that they know each other, and through a series of beautifully written, self-contained back stories, we come to know just how they know each other and just how long they have known each other. Even though burn victim never quite grows to believe, it didn't take me long to be convinced.
I loved the back stories just as much as the regular story, and I would look forward to them probably just as much as burn victim did. The tale of Marianne and burn victim is unusual, but it's got nothing on some of the old stories she tells. I want to say more, but I don't want to give away anything of what makes this book so unique and fascinating. I will just say that I absolutely adored the way that Marianne's work sculpting gargoyles paralleled the work that she did on burn victim through her crazy presence and even crazier stories.
I also loved the way Japanese and Japanese culture found its way unexpectedly into the book. I won't say more about it, because it was such a nice surprise for me, and I would love for it to be a nice surprise for everyone else as well.
The ONLY problem I had with this book was the lack of dimension in the characters. Marianne was totally off the wall, and yet everything she did could have been predicted. Burn victim grew a lot throughout the story, but at the same time I don't feel like he became a bigger person, and I don't really think he had much depth to him. This didn't stop me from loving them both, and I actually didn't even notice this until AFTER I finished reading, but they both seemed to be severely lacking in depth and dimension. And I could see how that might bother some readers.
All in all, though, a fabulous 5-star read, and if you're looking for something different with a twist, this just might be the book for you. I know as soon as I get back to a place where I can have bookshelves, it will make its way immediately to my shelf of favorites.
Summary: "The narrator of The Gargoyle is a very contemporary cynic, physically beautiful and sexually adept, who dwells in the moral vacuum that is modern life. As the book opens, he is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows. He crashes into a ravine and suffers horrible burns over much of his body. As he recovers in a burn ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned, he awaits the day when he can leave the hospital and commit carefully planned suicide - for he is now a monster in appearance as well as in soul." A beautiful and compelling, put clearly unhinged, sculptress of gargoyles by the name of Marianne Engel appears at the foot of his bed and insists that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly injured mercenary and she was a nun and scribe in the famed monastery of Engelthal who nursed him back to health. As she spins their tale in Scheherazade fashion and relates equally mesmerizing stories of deathless love in Japan, Iceland, Italy, and England, he finds himself drawn back to life - and, finally, in love. He is released into Marianne's care and takes up residence in her huge stone house. But all is not well. For one thing, the pull of his past sins becomes ever more powerful as the morphine he is prescribed becomes ever more addictive. For another, Marianne receives word from God that she has only twenty-seven sculptures left to complete - and her time on earth will be finished
Cover Story: This book has several covers, and to be honest, I love them all and feel like they all fit the book perfectly. My absolute favorite, though, is the cover of the one that I actually read. The burning heart with gargoyle is perfect, the pages are lined with black, which is more than suitable, and the way all of the arrows manage to miss the heart - superb!