By B.L. Ochman
The Gargoyle, the remarkable first novel by Andrew Davidson, (who reportedly got a $1.5 million advance) is a love story: a twisted Princess Bride with a touch of Garp.
It’s got what Doubleday thinks is a viral video site called Burned by Love Actually, the over-produced videos lack true grit because they seem to star actors adept at standup and not real people. There’s no prize, (not even a way to win a free copy of the book!) or selection process for readers to pick the best videos, and there doesn’t seem to be an online ad campaign to drive traffic to the contest. Nonetheless, the videos are entertaining in a made-for-TV sort of way. And hey, for the book industry, this is major progress. I’ve always thought publishers don’t sell more books because they’re a front for something else.
The marketing may be pretentious, but friend-to-friend WOM will sell The Gargoyle because it’s a great book. My copy has a waiting list because it kept me reading feverishly til 2 a.m. for several nights, when I turned down pages to remember particularly beautiful passages like this one:
“…Love is a delicate thing that needs to be cosseted and protected. Love is not robust and love is not unyielding. Love can crumble under a few harsh words, or be tossed away with handful of careless actions. Love isn’t a steadfast dog at all. Love is more like a pygmy mouse lemur.”
The story, rife with stories within stories, centers on a man who is horribly burned in an accident. He’s lying in his hospital bed, high on morphine, plotting his suicide when he is finally released from the burn unit. Suddenly, a beautiful and mysterious female patient from the psych ward comes into his room and tells him that they were lovers in the third century, when she was a nun and he was a mercenary. This leads to a compelling love story that’s not hard to visualize as movie.
Before he turned extra crispy, the leading man was a porn star, now rendered unemployable as the result of a penectomy. Oy vey. Trust me though, The Gargoyle is a memorable read with a sense of humor about itself that’s reminiscent of The World According to Garp.