The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson

Cover ImageFinished 11-9-08, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2008

“I wanted to cry but my tear ducts had been burned shut.”    -Chapter 2

The narrator of this goth-like tale is a drugged out pornography star who wrecks his car and ends up in the burn unit with severe burns covering his entire body.  When he becomes stuck in the hospital, constant  surgeries and treatments force him to see that he had no real friends before the crash that took his beautiful body from him forever.  He vows to get out of the hospital so he can commit suicide.  Then he meets Marianne, who becomes his friend and protector and she promises him that they have known and loved each other for 700 years.

The graphic burn details turn into a beautiful and confusing love story full of suspicion and obsession.  The enigmatic Marianne opens the narrator’s mind and heart to past experiences and present delusions.  Marianne takes him in and goes about carving out the last of her gargoyles, so that she can give away her last heart.  Is she crazy or is she telling the truth?

When the narrator goes cold turkey in vanquishing his morphine addiction he moves into the many realms of Hell, which anyone who is familiar with Dante’s The Inferno will appreciate.

“Seeing the look of revulsion on my face, Francesco said, ‘None are here by accident.  Hell is a choice because salvation is available to anyone who seeks it.  The damned choose their fates, by deliberately hardening their hearts.’

I couldn’t agree.  ‘No one would choose to be damned.’

Francesco shook his head.  ‘But it is so easy not to be.'”   -Chapter 29

I had read so many reviews of this book that my expectations were high.  I was not disappointed, but I can’t say I completely fell in love with it either.  It is perhaps the most original story and original voice that I’ve read.  Considering this is Davidson’s debut novel, I am impressed.  But the wandering style of moving between centuries and stories was somewhat distracting to me.  I also thought sometimes it was unnecessarily descriptive.  But, that does not take away from the beauty and freshness of the book.  If you get bored by reading the same old thing or are always looking for the next big thing-this is the book for you.

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