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The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
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The Gargoyle (2008)

by Andrew Davidson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,3802611,609 (3.97)285
  1. 90
    Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind (spiphany)
  2. 62
    Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen (heidilove)
    heidilove: If the power of story compels you, you'll like this as well.
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    The Book of Lost Things: A Novel by John Connolly (jujuvail)
  4. 20
    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Both novels have a generally dark mood and complex characters who are searching for answers. The Gargoyle is more graphic and violent, but both weave together the past and present in an intricate plot that encourages self-reflection.
  5. 10
    Diary by Chuck Palahniuk (twomoredays)
    twomoredays: Though very different, the entire time I was reading The Gargoyle I was reminded of Palahniuk's work. Marianne of The Gargoyle reminds me of some of Palahniuk's female characters, but at the same time everything is cast in such a different light in Davidson's work. It is certainly a book that fans of Diary should investigate.… (more)
  6. 00
    Ferney by James Long (shelfoflisa)
    shelfoflisa: Similar theme of a life repeated and two souls linked together through time, but less violent!
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    The Reincarnationist by M. J. Rose (leahsimone)
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  10. 12
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» See also 285 mentions

English (248)  Dutch (5)  German (3)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  All (1)  All (260)
Showing 1-5 of 248 (next | show all)
NOW this is a love story. From the opening pages describing the car accident to the last page. This book is AMAZING. The connection between the main character and the sculptor defies any boundary that love might encounter. The only other thing I can compare the sculptors love to is what ORION goes through to find his love in Ben Bova's Orion stories. ( )
  Hymlock | Apr 20, 2017 |
This is definitely one of the best books I've read in a long time. The writing was beautiful and the story was imaginative. ( )
  Heather_Brock | Nov 23, 2016 |
Inebriated and in the throes of a drug-induced hallucination, our morally bankrupt narrator drives off a mountain slope and wakes up in a hospital burn ward. Upon realizing the extent of his injuries and losses he half-heartedly humors his care specialists, but in fact has plans to commit suicide upon his release in the most spectacular manner imaginable -- that is, until Marianne Engel walks into his hospital room and captivates him with tales of their life together...in the 1300s.

One thought-provoking passage caught my eye: "I understand that some people find God after misfortune, although this seems to me even more ridiculous than finding Him in good times [...] It's like not wanting a romantic relationship until a member of the opposite sex punches you in the face."

I loved Marianne's stories from the past, and found them almost more charming than the goings-on of the present. The ending could have been stronger, but overall: recommended. ( )
1 vote ryner | Oct 14, 2016 |
I know that there's a popular saying that you "shouldn't judge a book by its cover" but we all know that's a load of hooey because if we didn't care about covers then a large portion of the publishing industry would be out of a job. That being said, I totally picked up today's book because of its cover. In fact, it was the UK edition specifically that I coveted and so I ordered a used copy from overseas. It took me a few months to get to it but I truly wasn't expecting what it delivered. The book in question is The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. (It's his debut novel.) If you can make it through the first quarter of the book without your jaw dropping or gasping out loud then you're doing well. Warning: If you're squeamish in any way then I must caution you that this book discusses injuries of a severe nature in explicit (and excruciating) detail. It starts with a bang (actually a crash) and the action crests and dips from there. It's the story of a man who finds love in a most unusual way. The story flips between present day and various other times in history (medieval for instance). Honestly, I haven't made up my mind whether or not I really liked this book. I certainly found myself gripped when I was reading it but I always hesitated before picking it back up again. I think a large part of that is the dearth of details which I mentioned before. It felt a bit like overkill much of the time. Also, I didn't feel much of a connection to the characters (except perhaps the psychiatrist at the hospital whose last name I couldn't even begin to pronounce). It's an intricately woven tale and extremely ambitious for a debut novel. Davidson clearly knows his history and I tend to think he must be a hopeless romantic. I'd say this was a 6.5/10 for me. ( )
  AliceaP | Sep 30, 2016 |
Interesting book- tells the first-person story of a man in the present day with a troubled childhood who is horribly burned in a car accident and who recovers with the help of a possibly schizophrenic woman named Marianne Engel who clams to have known the man in a previous life in 13th century Germany. The book jacket compares this to Life of Pi, in that it leaves us with the mystery of whether the woman's story is the raving of a lunatic or in fact true. Dante's Inferno is also prominently used as a reference within the book- shame I've never read it.

Marianne meets the narrator when she wanders down from the Psychiatric Ward and finds him in the Burn Unit. She eventually takes him home, where she supports herself by creating stone gargoyles in manic fits after allegedly beings spoken to by divine beings. The book is a little gratuitous- Marianne is of course very attractive and does all her stone work in the nude while the author often watches (then again, his penis was burned off in the opening chapter, so they're not consumating anything here). During the course of the book Marianne slowly tells the story of their previous life together in medieval Germany, along with other tragic stories of love and loss around the world. I like slowly unwinding back stories told in tantalizing nuggets, which this book handles well.

The book seems well-researched in terms of the history of medieval Germany, the Engelthal monastery, and the science of burn care medicine. I don't know anything about these topics, so maybe they're poorly done, but they seem good. The portrayal of psychiatric care (which I do know something about) is in some ways realistic, but a psychiatrist who is a prominent character as well as other hospital personnel violate HIPAA laws quite egregiously when it's convenient for explication. That's a quibble though.
Anyway, good book overall, readable, and kept me quite hooked in the runup to the end. ( )
  DanTarlin | Sep 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 248 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Andrew Davidsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Biersma, OttoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gall, JohnCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoppe, LincolnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Love is as strong as death, as hard as Hell." Death separates the soul from the body, but love separates all things from the soul. - Meister Eckhart, German mystic. Sermon: "Eternal Birth".
Dedication
First words
Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love.
Quotations
Someday you'll have to learn that your big mouth is the front gate of all your misfortunes.
Love is an action you must repeat ceaselessly.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
The nameless and beautiful narrator of "The Gargoyle" 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 wakes up in a burns ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned. His life is over - he is now a monster. But in fact it is only just beginning. One day, Marianne Engel, a wild and compelling sculptress of gargoyles, enters his life and tells him that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly burned mercenary and she was a nun and a scribe who nursed him back to health in the famed monastery of Engelthal. As she spins her tale, Scheherazade fashion, and relates equally mesmerising stories of deathless love in Japan, Greenland, Italy and England, he finds himself drawn back to life - and, finally, to love.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385524943, Hardcover)

Product Description
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 insists 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 has only 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.

Andrew Davidson Talks About Becoming a Writer
Some of what follows is true.

When I was about seven, I had a turtle named Stripe. I decided, because I liked my turtle and Jacques Cousteau, that I wanted to be a marine biologist. This ambition lasted until I was ten years old, when I spent a year gazing into the abyss, hoping that the abyss would not gaze back at me. At eleven, I longed for a master to teach me the secrets of the ninja, but the teacher did not appear; this probably means that as a student I was not ready. As I entered my teens, I set my heart upon becoming a professional hockey player. On weekend nights, the final game at the local arena ended around 10 p.m. but the icemaker was unable to leave the building until about midnight, as he had to clean the dressing rooms and do maintenance. I bribed him with presents of Aqua Velva aftershave to let me play alone on the rink until he headed home. Despite my devotion, I never developed the skills to make it off the small-town rink and into the big leagues. My dream shattered, at sixteen I started to spend more time writing. I began by changing the lyrics to Doors songs. I rewrote "Break On Through" so that it became "Live to Die": "Soldier in the forest / dodging bullets thick / only took one / to make him cry / All of us just live to die." Clearly, writing was my future.

I soon realized that, since I still had no authorial voice of my own, I should at least imitate better poets than Jim Morrison. Soon I was word-raping Leonard Cohen, e.e. cummings, Sylvia Plath, William Blake, and John Milton. After writing much abusively derivative poetry, I moved onto stage plays written in a mockery of the style of Tennessee Williams, which also didn’t work out so well. Next, I tried to put baby in a corner, until it was explained to me that nobody puts baby in a corner. Following this, I produced short stories that would have been much better if they were much shorter. Then, screenplays that even Alan Smithee wouldn’t direct.

Somewhere along the way, I managed to get a degree in English Literature; this was strange, as I thought I was studying cardiology. Undaunted, off to Vancouver Film School I went, but naturally not to study film. Instead, I took the new media course, because there was this thing called the internet that was just taking off. I also spent a fair amount of time using digital editing software for video and audio. An example project: I slowed down the final movement to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, looped it backwards, put in a heavy drumbeat, and end up with a funeral dirge. "Ode to Joy"? I think not. "Ode to Bleakness" is more like it; I was very deep, and showed it by destroying joy.

After this course finished, I had tens of thousands of dollars of student debt, and could no longer avoid getting a job. I soon discovered, in no uncertain terms, that work is no fun. I stuck it out for as long as I could, which was way less than a lifetime. As my thirtieth birthday approached, I became incredibly aware that I had never lived abroad, so I moved to Japan.

I had no idea if I would like Japan, but I vowed to stick it out for a year. I did, and then another year, and another, and another, and another. In the beginning, I worked as a kind of substitute teacher of English, covering stints in classrooms that needed a temporary instructor. I lived in fifteen different cities during my first two years, traveling from the northern island of Hokkaido all the way down to the southern island of Okinawa. It was a great introduction to the country, but eventually the constant relocation became too much. I got a job in a Tokyo office, writing English lessons for Japanese learners on the internet. I lived in the big city for three years, and loved it: hooray for sushi, hooray for sumo, and hooray for cartoon mascots.

While in Japan, I entertained myself by writing and, having already mangled poetry, short stories, stage plays and screenplays, I thought it was time to give a novel a shot. A strange thing happened: I found that I don’t write like other people when it comes to novels—or at least, none of which I know. It’s true that I’ve read comparisons of my novel to a number of other books—The Name of the Rose, The English Patient, The Shadow of the Wind—but I haven’t read any of them. (To my great shame, really, and I suppose I should. Since they are my supposed influences, I should become familiar with them. I’ll appear more intelligent in interviews.)

I liked writing The Gargoyle, and I think I’ll write another novel. If I can, I’ll make up new characters and a new plot. That’s my plan.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:48 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A very contemporary cynic, physically beautiful and sexually adept, crashes his car 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. Then 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.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

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Canongate Books

2 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 1847671683, 1847671691

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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