written by Andrew Davidson
published by Doubleday / Random House
first published 2008
verdict: 4 ludwigs
I don’t usually judge a book by its cover. Let alone buy it. The Gargoyle, however, proved to be an exception. I picked it up of a long table at the Eindhoven Boekenbeurs, turned it over and smiled. The edges of all the page are completely black. It certainly made it stand out, I thought ‘why not’, and bought it. I’m glad I did.
The Gargoyle tells the story of a porn actor who has a serious car accident. While recovering from his horrific burn wounds, he is visited by a patient from the psychiatric ward, Marianne Engel. Marianne tells him that they have been lovers… in medieval Germany. She fills their evenings together with stories from all over the world and from all times.
A horrific car crash opens the story, and Davidson describes it in all its gory details. If you’re tempted to step away from it then, I plead you not too. As soon as you’ve managed your way through that necessary horror, The Gargoyle blooms into a most beautiful ode to love. The burning love that can heal you, make you whole, as well as destroy you to ash and cinders. Throughout it all, The Gargoyle takes no backwards steps. The descent into hell, the stories Marianne spins, it will tear at your soul or fill you with joy without mercy. I loved it.
I find it difficult to write this review, it’s so much easier to point out things that don’t work, without wanting to spoil or diminish your enjoyment of The Gargoyle. And I hope you will trace it down to read it, because it’s well worth it. Trust me.
As for Andrew Davidson, The Gargoyle was his first novel (what a novel to open with!) and I look forward to the time he finishes a new one.
Why should you read this book? Because it’s the perfect antidote to the Valentine’s Day-way, where all passion and spontaneity are crushed, and everything is regulated and planned; flowers on the fourteenth, intimacy between 10:30 and 11:15 on Friday evenings, except when a favourite show is on. Read it because it burns all that away, and is the best damn view on love in all its forms that I have read in a long time.