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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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3 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

The Gargoyle

by

The Gargoyle Cover

ISBN13: 9780385524940
ISBN10: 0385524943
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Staff Pick

Like Diana Gabaldon, Andrew Davidson immerses you in a different reality and takes you on a roller-coaster ride. This is an unusual story about the power of love to transcend physical limitations and to transform ugliness into beauty. It's all in the eyes of the beholder, as we are often told. This book makes you believe that simple truth.
Recommended by Miriam, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 tells him 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 only has 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.

Review:

"At the start of Davidson's powerful debut, the unnamed narrator, 'a coke-addled pornographer,' drives his car off a mountain road in a part of the country that's never specified. During his painful recovery from horrific burns suffered in the crash, the narrator plots to end his life after his release from the hospital. When a schizophrenic fellow patient, Marianne Engel, begins to visit him and describe her memories of their love affair in medieval Germany, the narrator is at first skeptical, but grows less so. Eventually, he abandons his elaborate suicide plan and envisions a life with Engel, a sculptress specializing in gargoyles. Davidson, in addition to making his flawed protagonist fully sympathetic, blends convincing historical detail with deeply felt emotion in both Engel's recollections of her past life with the narrator and her moving accounts of tragic love. Once launched into this intense tale of unconventional romance, few readers will want to put it down." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

In the opening pages of "The Gargoyle," Andrew Davidson's outrageous new novel, a pornographer high on cocaine runs his car off a mountain road. The vehicle bursts into flames and burns him to a crisp. Welcome to the pain-riddled world of an acerbic, 35-year-old man who loses everything in those fiery minutes: his career, his fortune, his skin — all broiled away. This is a story for people who like... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Davidson's debut is storytelling at its finest, featuring a lively assortment of characters and events that combine in a gripping drama that will keep readers' attention through the very last page. An essential summer book; highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"The Gargoyle is purely and simply an amazement, a riot, a blast. It's hard to believe that this is Andrew Davidson's first novel: He barrels out of the chute with the narrative brio and confidence, not to mention the courage, of a seasoned master. This book plucks the reader off the ground and whirls her through the air until she shouts from sheer abandonment and joy. What a great, grand treat." Peter Straub

Review:

"I was blown away by Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle, It reminded me of Life of Pi, with its unanswered (and unanswerable) contradictions. A hypnotic, horrifying, astonishing novel that manages, against all odds, to be redemptive." Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants

Review:

"A romance spanning centuries and continents finds a grotesque narrator redeemed by the love of a woman who claims they first met seven centuries earlier, in this deliriously ambitious debut novel. This spellbinding narrative [is] a credit to the craftsmanship of the Canadian writer." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"A transportingly unhinged debut novel." New York Times

Review:

"First he gives us a story that sweeps us in with no protest. You want to be lost in its pages, immersed in the unfolding tale of the human gargoyle and a flesh and blood wraith. In the final analysis, the real tragedy of this book is that it ends." New York Daily News

Review:

"Working with a palette of recurring symbols — fire, water, arrowheads, hearts — Mr. Davidson paints an engaging if not scintillating tableau. It is, at least, a large one: There is physical suffering and spiritual elation, suicide, rebirth and redemption — all of it fraught with visions of hell." Wall Street Journal

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About the Author

Andrew Davidson was born in Pinawa, Manitoba, and graduated in 1995 from the University of British Columbia with a B.A. in English literature. He has worked as a teacher in Japan, where he has lived on and off, and as a writer of English lessons for Japanese websites. The Gargoyle, the product of seven years' worth of research and composition, is his first book. Davidson lives in Pinawa, Manitoba.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 8 comments:

roxburysnyder, January 28, 2011 (view all comments by roxburysnyder)
Great Read. Cannot believe this was first novel. Cannot wait for the next one.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
skbpen, January 2, 2010 (view all comments by skbpen)
This debut novel transports the reader through many valleys and mountains, experiencing the full gamut of life at its rawest. Which I must say this book reveals how raw an author can be with insane sincerity. I loved and hated parts of the book from the graphic detail of the accident in the beginning to the surreal death in the end; the physical and spiritual pain made me remorseful, sympathetic, yet helpless to do a thing, though moved to action. I would highly recommend this book to everyone, as I have for the simple pleasure of experiencing true redemption at the hands of a God who truly loves us.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
davidwmack, June 3, 2009 (view all comments by davidwmack)
You will either LOVE this book or HATE it. I LOVED it. I found it to be a bit of a different kind of stort that takes you through alot of different experiences. From the science of being severly burned to old history to the art of sculpture, and others. I think thats what I liked about it is that it made me think about, and feel and wonder about many different things that you dont normally find in one book.
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(3 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 8 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780385524940
Author:
Davidson, Andrew
Publisher:
Doubleday
Subject:
Reincarnation
Subject:
Stone carvers
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Publication Date:
August 2008
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
480
Dimensions:
9.50x6.54x1.27 in. 1.78 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Gargoyle Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$2.95 In Stock
Product details 480 pages Doubleday Books - English 9780385524940 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Like Diana Gabaldon, Andrew Davidson immerses you in a different reality and takes you on a roller-coaster ride. This is an unusual story about the power of love to transcend physical limitations and to transform ugliness into beauty. It's all in the eyes of the beholder, as we are often told. This book makes you believe that simple truth.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "At the start of Davidson's powerful debut, the unnamed narrator, 'a coke-addled pornographer,' drives his car off a mountain road in a part of the country that's never specified. During his painful recovery from horrific burns suffered in the crash, the narrator plots to end his life after his release from the hospital. When a schizophrenic fellow patient, Marianne Engel, begins to visit him and describe her memories of their love affair in medieval Germany, the narrator is at first skeptical, but grows less so. Eventually, he abandons his elaborate suicide plan and envisions a life with Engel, a sculptress specializing in gargoyles. Davidson, in addition to making his flawed protagonist fully sympathetic, blends convincing historical detail with deeply felt emotion in both Engel's recollections of her past life with the narrator and her moving accounts of tragic love. Once launched into this intense tale of unconventional romance, few readers will want to put it down." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Davidson's debut is storytelling at its finest, featuring a lively assortment of characters and events that combine in a gripping drama that will keep readers' attention through the very last page. An essential summer book; highly recommended."
"Review" by , "The Gargoyle is purely and simply an amazement, a riot, a blast. It's hard to believe that this is Andrew Davidson's first novel: He barrels out of the chute with the narrative brio and confidence, not to mention the courage, of a seasoned master. This book plucks the reader off the ground and whirls her through the air until she shouts from sheer abandonment and joy. What a great, grand treat."
"Review" by , "I was blown away by Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle, It reminded me of Life of Pi, with its unanswered (and unanswerable) contradictions. A hypnotic, horrifying, astonishing novel that manages, against all odds, to be redemptive."
"Review" by , "A romance spanning centuries and continents finds a grotesque narrator redeemed by the love of a woman who claims they first met seven centuries earlier, in this deliriously ambitious debut novel. This spellbinding narrative [is] a credit to the craftsmanship of the Canadian writer."
"Review" by , "A transportingly unhinged debut novel."
"Review" by , "First he gives us a story that sweeps us in with no protest. You want to be lost in its pages, immersed in the unfolding tale of the human gargoyle and a flesh and blood wraith. In the final analysis, the real tragedy of this book is that it ends."
"Review" by , "Working with a palette of recurring symbols — fire, water, arrowheads, hearts — Mr. Davidson paints an engaging if not scintillating tableau. It is, at least, a large one: There is physical suffering and spiritual elation, suicide, rebirth and redemption — all of it fraught with visions of hell."
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