Cover of The Gargoyle
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson-What can I say about The Gargoyle? I'd heard so many good things about it, but I was so disappointed by it. The funny thing is, I don't necessarily think it was a bad book, I think it just suffered some timing issues. Here's a rough breakdown of my reading timeline:
Week 1: Reading The Gargoyle
Week 2-3: Reading The Sparrow (which I loved!) because my conscience finally kicked in and made me return The Gargoyle to the library.
Week 4-5: Slogging through the rest of my re-checked-out copy of The Gargoyle.
During Week 1, I was really enjoying The Gargoyle-I thought it was interesting and that the narrator was funny in a dark, cynical kind of way. He's been badly burned in a car accident, and his ensuing hospital recovery is filled with his wry acceptance of the fact that he will probably not be able to return to his career as a porn star as well as lots of interesting medical facts. For instance, did you know that burn victims go through a period of hypermetabolism when they're healing, thus "...a body that normally requires two thousand calories a day can consume seven thousand after a severe burn."? I didn't either!
So, this book is filled with interesting little tidbits like that along with some pretty gruesome narration about the things that happen to a burned body, both during the actual burning of the flesh as well as during the recovery period. The book is also full of stories told by Marianne Engel, the seemingly crazy woman who comes to visit our narrator in the hospital. She claims that they have known each other in previous lives and proceeds to tell him all of their fateful love stories, trying to convince him that she is, in fact, not crazy and that they do really know each other. I didn't really care one way or the other. It's not that the stories were bad--in fact I rather liked some of them--or that I couldn't suspend my disbelief for this possibility, but I kept thinking how much I liked The Sparrow and how much this paled in comparison. The writing seemed flat and I didn't particularly care about any of the characters, but, oddly enough, there were a lot of things that both books had in common.
-They both had main characters for whom words are their life. In The Sparrow, Father Emilio Sandoz is a linguist and in The Gargolye the narrator is a writer and a smooth-talker of women. At some point in each of their stories, their words, the one thing that they have always been able to count on, fail them miserably.
-In The Gargoyle, Marianne's 14th-century self discovers at an early age that she has a gift for translation, much like The Sparrow's Sandoz for whom languages come easy.
-Both The Gargoyle and The Sparrow address suffering as it pertains to religion. The Sparrow brings up questions of how God can allow so much suffering and The Gargoyle discusses suffering as a way to become closer to God.
-Both books have characters that are described as resembling Raggedy Ann/Andy dolls. That's kind of weird, right?
-Both books have characters who question celibacy and the church-is it right and/or necessary to deny the love of and for another of God's children in order to serve God?
So, while you would think it might be good to have a lot of things in common with something that I enjoyed so much...you'd be wrong. I felt like The Sparrow was what The Gargoyle wanted to be when it grew up; but, as I said earlier, I think this mostly just suffered from timing issues. I think if I'd read it at another time, I might have liked it better. The Gargoyle suffered the fate of many a rebound relationship. No matter how good it is, it's going to suffer strain under the constant comparison to your last relationship. That said, The Gargoyle seems like a perfectly nice guy. He's had a bit of a sordid history, but he's cleaned up his act, and he's got a good sense of humor. He just wasn't right for me. But you might like him!
Random favorite quote that I
was too lazy to couldn't fit in anywhere else: "...against stupidity even the gods struggle in vain." See what I mean? Good sense of humor!
Reviews and other stuff:
Ann at Books on the Nightstand (podcast portion starts around 3:29) gives us some interesting background on the book.
Joanne at The Book Zombie tells us about a song that reminds her of The Gargoyle.
Jessica at Both Eyes Book Blog examines some of the historical aspects of the book.
Fond of Snape loved it!
Did you review The Gargoyle? Let me know, and I'll add a link to your review.