Every once in a while a book comes along that will really move you. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson is one such book.
I knew nothing about it when I bought it. I was doing an Amazon shop; it had rave reviews and it was also half price. So I thought ‘what the heck’ and I bought it.
Having finished it this morning – I consider it to be one of the most powerful books I’ve read in recent years. It is an odyssey that spans centuries. It is about love. It is about connection. It is about redemption and self discovery and of being true to oneself. It is also about loving someone enough to let them go.
It’s an international best-seller. From an unknown Canadian author. Like me, he taught English in Japan. And, wait for it – this was his début novel.
I don’t like dissecting books for people that have not yet read them as I worry it will detract from their own enjoyment when they get to read it; better to know too little than to know too much. I knew nothing about it when I started reading it and this was the best way. In fact, the first few pages made me doubt it would be my sort of book. But I was wrong.
This is a novel about transition and of self-discovery. It is also about burns – in all their grisly detail. It is about Medieval Germany. It is about Christ and religion. It is also about Dante’s Inferno and of Engenthal. It is, in fact, about many, many things.
Chapter 21 (a stand-alone love story set in Viking times – focusing on the relationship between two men) will live with me for a long, long time. That which has always truly been beyond the scope of this blog was suddenly brought into sharp relief and this affected me more deeply than anything I’ve read in a long time. I was jarred by remembrance, by nuance, and by absolute and indisputable recognition.
This is a book for aspirational people who believe in the concept of true love. For people who believe in something more powerful and more meaningful than sex, superficial beauty and physical attraction. This is a book for people who yearn for – and believe in – connection, oneness and singularity.
I’ve read the odd negative review and for some it’s probably too mainstream now. The self-concious and invariably faux ‘literati’ would not like it, for example. I’ve read the odd deriding blog entry that’s self-consciously clever and picks holes in the history of it. But that misses the point entirely. It’s a piece of fiction. And as fiction goes it’s extremely compelling and a total tour de force.
The Gargoyle is one of the best books I’ve read in the last 5 years. Very highly recommended.
PS If you do read it – or have read it – let me know your thoughts.