Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes
"Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love," writes Andrew Davidson in The Gargoyle. This novel is so explicit and creepy and compelling. I nearly did not get past the first few chapters. The narrator is a revolting man, a porn star with no moral or other compass, who is burned over most of his body in a horrific car crash. The agony of the burn is described much too graphically for this reader's taste, but I couldn't put it down. And I'm glad I didn't.
This is the kind of writing I was rewarded with for not putting it down. "Only after my skin was burned away did I finally become able to feel. Only after I was born into physical repulsiveness did I come to glimpse the possibilities of the heart." The narrator falls in love with a young woman who is either the reincarnated love of his previous lives going back hundreds of years - or she is schizophrenic. This woman, Marianne, comes to his hospital room day after day to help with his rehabilitation, and when the day comes for him to leave the hospital, he leaves to go live with her and watch her sculpt gargoyles.
The narrator goes through such an unusually beautiful rebirth in this book, even the rebirth of getting off painkillers. He described his pain as so persistent it was like "having a Jehovah's Witness living in my spine." This is really rare writing, but I warn you about the language and the subject matter in the beginning. I give a thumb's up to the shocking first novel from Andrew Davidson, The Gargoyle.