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The Gargoyle [Paperback]

4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful! Aug. 16 2008
By Teddy
The Gargoyle is a difficult book to review and summarize. The plot crosses many genre lines and deals with many issues. That said, here is my attempt.

The novel begins with the narrator getting in a car accident after bingeing on liquor and cocaine. He has a bottle of bourbon between his legs at the time and him and his car go up in flames. He is burned over most of his body and is in a hospital burn unit for a very long time.

Marianne Engel, a famous sculptress of gargoyles, shows up on his unit one day and tells him that they were lovers in medieval Germany. She claims that he was a mercenary and that she was a scribe. He doesn't really much faith in this claim, but is mesmerized by Marianne.

When he was ready to be released from the hospital he was still going to need continuous care. Normally he would have been sent to a rehab centre, however Marianne volunteers to take him into her home. She has the resources for him to get the care he needs.

This book is richly layered with many themes and symbolism. It is not a book to be read quickly, but rather slowly and contemplatively. One of the major themes is of redemption and there are many references to Dante's Inferno in it.

This book is not for the faint of heart. The burns that the nameless narrator goes through and many other aspects are vividly outlined. Though I don't normally like a book with much gore, it is needed in this book. It's not there to purposely shock the reader, but to inform.

I really liked this book. It has a lot to keep the reader interested and is well researched and written. The stories that Marianne tells are very engaging and were my favorite part of the book.

I only have one complaint.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This dark, subversive and heavily allegorical novel weaves myth, legend and Dante's legendary The Inferno into a relentless narrative of hell and friendship, of love and reincarnation. Filled with fervency, action and intrigue, Davidson's novel moves from the 14th-century to the present day and one man's journey to discover the dark depths his inner soul after a devastating accident scars him for life. The story begins as our coke-fuelled narrator drives off a bridge late one night, his burning car falling into a creek, the violent flames eventually extinguished, but not before his flesh is broiled and he is tarnished beyond recognition. Once a self-obsessed and hedonistic porn-star, his glistening body inhabiting a "graceful muscularity," our narrator transforms into a burnt out shell even as "the gaping maw of a snake," lunges at him, laughing while burning his hands and feet and consuming him from head to toe.

It is two months before he wakes from a coma, his body ultimately ravaged, unrecognizable as his former self. Even as he appears as a monster "a thing of engorged flesh suffused with juice," with his manhood now forever severed, images about the accident reel into each other and he cannot help but dream of gargoyles waiting to be born and a tail with one ring deeper into Hell.

While his former associates of the skin trade gradually drift away, unable to cope with the scene before them, he lies in bed, the drip of morphine inhabiting every inch of his spine. Only through his kindly doctor Nan Edwards, his therapist Gregor, and Sayuri, a bubbly Japanese physical therapist, can our narrator hope to pulled back from the brink.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Betty Gelean TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The Gargoyle Andrew Davidson, a new Canadian author, has debuted with a powerful and absorbing book. A story of love that transcends time and boundaries over 700 years, the book is filled with history, none of it dry. Medical practices from medieval to current times, beliefs of the centuries, everyday life experiences, and brought it all into an almost magical present. The characters are unique but built gradually so the reader can gather the fullness of them. It is written with the voice of one of the two main characters, a rather unsavory film maker and actor at the outset with only his own ambition and looks in his mind. A man detached from normal life, love, and destiny. One thing he does do though, is read deeply and thoroughly.

On drugs and drunk, he has a horrendous car accident which is about to change his life completely. He awakens in a hospital where he finds he is so badly burned that it is a wonder he could wake up at all. His "friends" come and go as quickly as possible. As time passes, a young woman comes in to visit him and one of the first things he notices is that she shows no look of horror at what she sees of his injuries. Instead, she makes the cryptic comment "You've been burned. Again." Rather than the sadness and disgust one might expect to feel during the burn treatments, they are relatively easy to read, well researched, and necessary to the plot. Marianne is a patient in the hospital and it is believed she has psychological disorders... or does she? Attempts to bar her from visiting him in the burn unit are to no avail. He shortly afterward requests every psychology book he can get, particularly relating to schizophrenia, from the psychiatrist who befriends him.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great story telling. Excellent book club pick.
Published 14 days ago by Jennifer McPherson
5.0 out of 5 stars Im not a porn star or to my knowledge clinically ...
Im not a porn star or to my knowledge clinically insane. Given my background this book was quite insightful in a thoroughly entertaining way.
Published 17 days ago by Cory Chesla
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great novel, delivery time was outstanding, i couldn't be happier!
Published 1 month ago by ahmad
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by William Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars This book was so hard to put down. It ...
This book was so hard to put down. It is so interesting - I really haven't read another book similar to this since.
Published 2 months ago by Allyanna
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Read
I borrowed this book from a friend who highly recommended it. I loved it so much I bought a copy and have loaned it out numerous times.
Published 8 months ago by Gerty
5.0 out of 5 stars "a circle whose centre is everywhere"
This novel is a romance, though it’s not your typical boy-meets-girl. More like thirty-something male porn star (burned beyond recognition in a fiery, drug-induced car crash)... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Wendy A Stefansson
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly a unique novel
I find myself wanting to tell Marianne's stories over and over. Bought both electronic and print copies so I could share. Graphic and heartwarming. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Alia
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to box this big story
It's all there. Some great bits and pieces of lovely useless information. Very unlikely hero. Interesting heroine. Delicious food detail. Diverse and diffirent story line. Read more
Published on July 21 2012 by Gulietta
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gargoyle
This book was recommended to me. It was a great read. Good characters and great story telling elements made for many surprises. It engendered so many emotions. A good read.
Published on Jan. 13 2012 by mamap@shaw.ca
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