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Could work better as a movie
The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson
Member Name: melbadog
The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson
Advantages: Lots of difficult subjects, well researched and presented
Disadvantages: Hard to warm to the characters
The Gargoyle is one of those books that always looked intriguing on the shelves. It may be because the edges of the book are coloured black, or because it has 'THE INTERNATIONAL BEST SELLER' at the top of the front cover. It could even be because it's in bright red. Whatever it is, there is something that drew me into it, to want to find out more.
In the end, I borrowed a copy from a friend, who said that she hadn't really enjoyed it, had struggled to engage with the characters and was a little unsure what to make of it. In a way, this just intrigued me even more, since I'd read mainly positive reviews - so I tried to read it with an open mind. I finished it last night, and I can now understand all of my friend's thoughts. However, she had left out the positives, of which there are many.
The book is about a man (a pornstar), the narrator, who is horrifically burned during a car accident. Trying to avoid spoilers, I think it's safe to tell you that when he is recovering in hospital, he is visited by a strange lady (Marianne), who may or may not be schizophrenic - they fall in love and the story unfolds.
The chapters flip between our narrator, and Marianne telling the story of their past lives. Which takes a little getting used to, since both are told in the first person, but with Marianne's side written as if she is speaking directly to the narrator. It's a unique style and creative of the writer, Andrew Davidson, but I'm not sure it works as effectively as he intended.
This style of writing does lead to you feeling slightly detached from the two principal characters and the supporting cast of doctors handling our friend's treatment for his burns.
That said, the story is absurdly engrossing. It is really imaginative, with the author guiding you through the current story and interweaving the stories told by Marianne. There are large chunks of fact, and Davidson has obviously spent a large amount of time studying medieval history, religion, burns treatment, schizophrenia. Looking at that list, it's no wonder the book takes some time to get used to.
It's very unusual to find a novel and think that it would work better as a movie, but as I got further into the book I couldn't help thinking that this was the case with The Gargoyle. I could imagine the characters coming to life on screen, and the warmth and imagery the writer has tried to display showing itself more clearly on film. It would take two brilliant performances to make it work, but I think that is the future of this book.
The Gargoyle gives an intriguing insight into what is important in love. How decisions can affect your life, and how we look at one another. It's an impressive book in many ways but when I finished it, I didn't feel like I'd lost a friend, like you can when you finish a truly great book. I felt, as my friend did, unsure of where this fit. I couldn't really place whether I'd truly enjoyed it.
I guess the issue is that the two principle characters are generally quite unloveable. They are unique and perfectly crafted with distinct imagineable personalities, but they aren't likeable. And while Davidson makes an admirable attempt at turning this on it's head, I'm not convinced I ever reached the point where I had an empathy for either the narrator or Marianne.
I liked this book. I could even say I enjoyed it at points and found it easy to move through. But it's not a book I'd be comfortable recommending. Maybe I'll just suggest that people wait for the movie...
Summary: A good book, that I'm expecting will be made into a film some time soon.