This book has helped me define what I don’t like to read. The books that you don’t think the author really put any effort into, they just sat down and wrote, quite possibly following some formula. I expect the author to expend more effort in the writing than I spend in the reading.
Although I didn’t love The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, I liked it. And I really appreciate all the effort that the author obviously spent writing it. The narrator of this book is a mostly unlikable, amoral fellow and the book begins with the description of an automobile accident in which he is severely burned over most of his body. The descriptions of his injuries and of the treatments which save his life are so vivid as to make the reader wince. The story itself doesn’t really become interesting until Marianne Engel enters his life. A psychiatric patient in the hospital, she comes into his room claiming that they were lovers in medieval Germany. Their present lives become more connected as she heals his spirit with stories from their past(s) together. It’s not perfect, but there’s a lot to like.
It just feels like Davidson has done a lot of research and thinking and planning about this, his first novel. Dante’s Inferno plays a huge role in the story, and the setting of their past lives are real places, so richly recreated that the reader, along with the narrator, begins to question his own conviction that Marianne is schizophrenic. The Gargoyle is one of those books that I think I would get more out of with a second reading, and perhaps after tackling Dante, too, but I don’t care enough about the characters to want to spend any more time with them. Davidson is an author I would definitely pick up again, his efforts deserve my attention.