Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Gargoyle

((I know you would probably rather hear about what's going on in my life, but there really isn't much to report on other than the books I'm reading. So, that being said, here's another book review!))

I just finished Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle. It was not just reading a book. It was an experience.

Just a quick look at the premise. The story follows a man who becomes a burn victim. He was once perfectly handsome and the object of women's desires. He knew it though. While he was beautiful on the outside, there was nothing redeeming on the inside. He was hideous inside. One night he careens off the edge of a cliff in his car. The car goes up in flames with him trapped inside.

He is now scarred and, to him, ugly on the outside. In the burn unit he meets a psych patient named Marianne Engel. She claims that they were lovers before and that this was not the first time they had met. She continues to meet with him and tell him stories about lovers in the past as well as their own medieval story of their love.

Essentially the man, who remains nameless throughout the novel, is pulled out of his misery through the love of Marianne Engel.

Marianne is a sculptor. She makes gargoyles. One of the cool things in the novel is how she describes the way she creates these creatures. She lays on a slab of stone and listens to the gargoyle yelling to be set free. It then becomes her duty to chisel the gargoyle free from its stone prison. The narrator describes it as loving it out of the stone which is, in essence, what she is doing with the narrator but in a different way. She is loving him out of his personal hell.

I won't give too much away because I had no idea what I was getting into when I read the book which made it more enjoyable. This story is a story about the redemptive power of love. Davidson weaves the stories of past lovers with the present in such a charming way. Part of what drew me to this book was that it was supposed to be a modern spin on Dante's Inferno. There is a section in the book where it echoes Dante almost perfectly.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a book that is entertaining but thought-provoking. It has stuck with me since reading it and I think it's because it's not your typical book. Rarely these days does a book come along that is so literary in its depth and commentary on the human experience.

And I have Andrew Davidson as a friend on my Facebook. He's a really nice guy and actually responds to questions and comments. I love that.

With all that being said, I must add a disclaimer. If you do read this book, be warned, there are some vivid descriptions of the process of recovering a burn victim which can be somewhat disconcerting. Also, the narrator, before the accident, was a porn star, so there are some passages that, while necessary to the story, are not for young readers. There is nothing explicit and it never feels trashy, but it is there and I feel like I should warn you.

If you do end up reading this great book, let me know and we can discuss it!

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