E. Anderson's Reviews > The Gargoyle

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
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's review
Aug 31, 09

Read in August, 2008

The Gargoyle begins with a pornographer, in a drug-addled haze, crashes his car and is trapped in the ensuing fire. He miraculously survives, but having no want for a life in which he has no toes, no ears, no face, no hair, few fingers, infinite scars and, most ironically, no penis, he lays in bed plotting his suicide upon discharge. However, a striking woman from the psych ward chances by one day, calling herself Marianne and claiming to love him. She knows him from a past life in Medieval Germany, she loves him with no strings attached, despite his grotesque appearance. She must be crazy - she is a psych patient, after all - but she continues her regular visits after her discharge, tells him the story of how they met, tells him of her friends from Iceland, Italy, and Japan who all suffered for love, tells him of her faith in God and the Catholic Church, shows him all her spiritual tattoos, and reveals her past as a nun in the monastary at Engelthal, her present as a carver of gargoyles. As the burned man falls further and further in love with Marianne, he is forced to confront his own past, his shame, and his hell.

Davidson's is a novel that believes in insanity without confronting it, preferring to cradle the love stories that are kept safe by what others might perceive as delusion. Like Marianne with her statues, Davidson has listened to his characters and formed them thusly, carving them to show every flaw and every beauty through the voice of the burned man and, in her retelling of her past, Marianne. The two voices blend seamlessly, forcing the reader to put aside the most obvious question, even when the characters push, over and over, that love cannot keep a person alive for 700 years. The Gargoyle is a smart, intensely spiritual work that will leave a mark on the face of Gothic literature, leaving its readers smoldering in the ash.

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