Plot: A young man suffers a car accident that almost claims his life. Struggling to recover from hideous burns that have destroyed his porn-star good looks and not seeing the point in his existence, this nameless narrator must find something to live for.
He receives a surprise visitor. Marianne is no ordinary woman though. Gargoyles call to her and she believes she is doing God’s work carving them from blocks of stone. She also believes the pair of them had a past life together and this is not the first time he was burnt. Is it craziness or something more?
Quote: `But following this transcendence, your mind becomes a supercomputer capable of calculating the gyrations of your car, multiplying that by the speed of the fall over the angle of descent, factoring in Newton’s laws of motion and, in a split second, coming to the panicked conclusion that this is gonna hurt like hell.`
Opinion: I read The Gargoyle around eight years ago and the only real recollection I have of it was that it is weird. I decided to give it a go, and thoroughly enjoyed it this time around. I believe my fifteen-year-old self honestly just didn’t understand half of the content and that is why I couldn’t connect to it.
Davidson writes character development in a way I have never come across before. A self-obsessed porn-start, drug-addict and general arsehole turns into a thoroughly likeable character in a realistic way. The change is progressive and simply works. Nothing feels false or fake. His attitude appears to remain the same until you notice all the subtle differences and look back at the start and realise the progression.
Marianne is also a thoroughly enjoyable character. Her eccentricity is only shown through the narrator and his gradual suspension of disbelief brings the reader around to accepting Marianne as he does.
How to describe the plot? Past lives, hell, reincarnation, mystical stories… It’s all there. Strangely, it’s all believable, again due to the excellent narration. The book should seem far-fetched and just over the top. But it isn’t. The pieces come together and the reader is left wondering as much as the narrator about whether it could be true or not. In the end, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the telling makes it believable – you’re swept into a story within a story and somehow do not get lost on the way.
I was apprehensive about re-reading this book because my memory of it was unimpressed. This isn’t one for the easily offended due to the narrator’s lifestyle, the violence and the language throughout. But the power of the characterisation do not make these things an issue; they are just part of who he is and you accept that as you read. It does explain why I couldn’t attach myself to the book when I was younger though.
I definitely recommend reading this book. Humour and seriousness combine with engaging characters and an intriguing plot-line. What more could you want?