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Gargoyle, The

by Andrew Davidson
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Anchor
  • Publishing date: 04/08/2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780307388674
  • ISBN: 0307388670


Product Description
An extraordinary debut novel of love that survives the fires of hell and transcends the boundaries of time.

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, but 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.

Already an international literary sensation, The Gargoyle is an Inferno for our time. It will have you believing in the impossible.

Andrew Davidson Talks About Becoming a Writer
Some of what follows is true.

When I was about seven, I had a turtle named Stripe. I decided, because I liked my turtle and Jacques Cousteau, that I wanted to be a marine biologist. This ambition lasted until I was ten years old, when I spent a year gazing into the abyss, hoping that the abyss would not gaze back at me. At eleven, I longed for a master to teach me the secrets of the ninja, but the teacher did not appear; this probably means that as a student I was not ready. As I entered my teens, I set my heart upon becoming a professional hockey player. On weekend nights, the final game at the local arena ended around 10 p.m. but the icemaker was unable to leave the building until about midnight, as he had to clean the dressing rooms and do maintenance. I bribed him with presents of Aqua Velva aftershave to let me play alone on the rink until he headed home. Despite my devotion, I never developed the skills to make it off the small-town rink and into the big leagues. My dream shattered, at sixteen I started to spend more time writing. I began by changing the lyrics to Doors songs. I rewrote "Break On Through" so that it became "Live to Die": "Soldier in the forest / dodging bullets thick / only took one / to make him cry / All of us just live to die." Clearly, writing was my future.

I soon realized that, since I still had no authorial voice of my own, I should at least imitate better poets than Jim Morrison. Soon I was word-raping Leonard Cohen, e.e. cummings, Sylvia Plath, William Blake, and John Milton. After writing much abusively derivative poetry, I moved onto stage plays written in a mockery of the style of Tennessee Williams, which also didn’t work out so well. Next, I tried to put baby in a corner, until it was explained to me that nobody puts baby in a corner. Following this, I produced short stories that would have been much better if they were much shorter. Then, screenplays that even Alan Smithee wouldn’t direct.

Somewhere along the way, I managed to get a degree in English Literature; this was strange, as I thought I was studying cardiology. Undaunted, off to Vancouver Film School I went, but naturally not to study film. Instead, I took the new media course, because there was this thing called the internet that was just taking off. I also spent a fair amount of time using digital editing software for video and audio. An example project: I slowed down the final movement to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, looped it backwards, put in a heavy drumbeat, and end up with a funeral dirge. "Ode to Joy"? I think not. "Ode to Bleakness" is more like it; I was very deep, and showed it by destroying joy.

After this course finished, I had tens of thousands of dollars of student debt, and could no longer avoid getting a job. I soon discovered, in no uncertain terms, that work is no fun. I stuck it out for as long as I could, which was way less than a lifetime. As my thirtieth birthday approached, I became incredibly aware that I had never lived abroad, so I moved to Japan.

I had no idea if I would like Japan, but I vowed to stick it out for a year. I did, and then another year, and another, and another, and another. In the beginning, I worked as a kind of substitute teacher of English, covering stints in classrooms that needed a temporary instructor. I lived in fifteen different cities during my first two years, traveling from the northern island of Hokkaido all the way down to the southern island of Okinawa. It was a great introduction to the country, but eventually the constant relocation became too much. I got a job in a Tokyo office, writing English lessons for Japanese learners on the internet. I lived in the big city for three years, and loved it: hooray for sushi, hooray for sumo, and hooray for cartoon mascots.

While in Japan, I entertained myself by writing and, having already mangled poetry, short stories, stage plays and screenplays, I thought it was time to give a novel a shot. A strange thing happened: I found that I don’t write like other people when it comes to novels—or at least, none of which I know. It’s true that I’ve read comparisons of my novel to a number of other books—The Name of the Rose, The English Patient, The Shadow of the Wind—but I haven’t read any of them. (To my great shame, really, and I suppose I should. Since they are my supposed influences, I should become familiar with them. I’ll appear more intelligent in interviews.)

I liked writing The Gargoyle, and I think I’ll write another novel. If I can, I’ll make up new characters and a new plot. That’s my plan.

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  • Complex, unique, poignant, and provocative
    From Amazon

    At several points during the reading of 'The Gargoyle', I found myself wondering what sort of book I was reading. Was it a romance? Was it a fantasy? Was it a hero's journey? Was it a book about the metamorphosis of the human spirit? It was all of those things. I found this to be a worthy read, though it was a bit of a roller-coaster with a couple of lo-o-o-o-onng, slow hills followed by thrilling descents. The beginning chapters were exciting in their way (if a bit graphic) and I really could not fathom where the book was going. Then the heroine appears, and things get interesting. Several historical/fantasy 'tales' woven together--now I'm REALLY not sure where this is going. Got seriously bogged down at a couple points, but I persevered, and I'm glad I did. The later chapters were quite stimulating(I particularly appreciated the link to 'Inferno') and the ending was poignant and hopeful. The writing flowed well, displayed fine use of imagery, and was (for the most part) well crafted. Recommended.

  • Brilliant!
    From Amazon

    This book was phenomenal! I had a bit of a tough time, as mentioned in other reviews, getting through the first few chapters, as there was a lot of graphic information about the main character in relation to his burn injuries, but I stuck it out, hoping that there would be good reason to, and boy was I correct. This is probably the most amazing book I have EVER read. The story was completely captivating. I worried that the ending would fall short, but it was executed brilliantly and believably. The characters were so real and their stories were so inspiring. I can't say enough great things about this book. I do not think that this book is necessarily for everyone, but again, I think this is the best book I've ever read!

  • Hard read..but good
    From Amazon

    this is not a book for just is a very hard read.....but with a story that makes you realize the concept of 'unconditional love'......very detailed in several areas but once you get started it is very difficult to put down.....for mature readers only.....

  • Breadth and unconventional style are literarily satisfying
    From Amazon

    A drunk porn actor gets in a car accident, which results in burns all over his body. (The liquor he was drinking, and spilled in his lap, flares up and does an especially bad number on his penis, leaving him with little more than a flap of skin). During his recover in the hospital, a possibly schizophrenic gargoyle sculptor named Marianne Engel visits him regularly, saying she knows him from when she was a nun working in a monastery scriptorium (a room dedicated to Bible translation and transcription) in the 14th century. Marianne tells him stories of their life together 700 years ago, as well as myriad other stories from her multilingual experience. The Gargoyle is a completely immersive experience. Author Andrew Davidson's debut -- the product of seven years of research and writing -- has something for everyone: history, horror, mystery, religion, romance, terrific storytelling, and well-crafted prose. The story of Marianne Engel and the unnamed narrator/protagonist is one of and for the ages. Not only did reading The Gargoyle entertain and literarily satisfy me, but its breadth of scope and Davidson's unconventional style (including humor that ranges from the subtle to the laugh-out-loud -- there's even a throwaway Caddyshack reference that will get past a lot of people) inspired me to try new things in my own writing. As Marianne herself states at one point, "It was apparent from the start that the writing was unlike anything I'd ever read." The Gargoyle combines portions of Dante's Inferno, the One Thousand Nights and a Night, the Gnaden-vita, the Bible, and likely others I simply didn't recognize. It is multilayered and multilingual, and even though the novel sometimes asks a little much in the realm of suspension of disbelief, Davidson never stretches plausibility too far, especially once you give yourself over to its mythic structure and its motif of arrows and fire. Lincoln Hoppe reads the unabridged audiobook of The Gargoyle, and his grasp of the characters is stunning. From Vikings to nuns to a man with a scarred larynx to the "bitch snake" that only morphine will quiet, he offers believable portraits of all of them. And he is not slowed in the least by all the foreign idioms and accents that he is required to master. Hoppe's reading may even make the book more accessible to those that find it a difficult read.

  • Love
    From Amazon

    This is my favorite novel. I don't have many favorites and never re-read. Sometimes I don't even finish a book. This book is different. This book is the about the only book I recommend to others. Please read this book. I will...again.

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