I'm smack dab in the middle of Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle, and it's due back to the library tomorrow. One of two things will happen.
1. I will spend the rest of today gulping it down and avoiding all responsibility.
2. I'll keep it an extra day or two, library late fee be damned.
The way it's going so far, I feel sure I'll go with the first option. Actually, I'm looking at the book now, and I'm 170 pages into the 460'ish pages of the book, so no matter how devoted I am, I may not make it. The cold meds throw me into spontaneous naps, so I don't know if I can realistically stay awake long enough to finish. Cross your fingers.
The very good news is that I'm completely involved in this book. The unnamed narrator was a complete degenerate at the beginning of the novel, but through the lurv of a good woman (a possible schizophrenic/manic depressive nut that says she was born in the 13th century) he's beginning to see the light at the end of a very painful tunnel. Right now he's finishing up treatment for devastating burns from a car accident and there's a big decision to be made. I won't tell you what it is because I'm a tease that way, but it promises to be a good plot pusher.
In the early pages of The Gargoyle there was actually a moment or five when I questioned whether or not I would continue reading. The tone of the book is sardonic and, let's just say it, smartassy. The protagonist is a cynical guy, and while his love, Marianne Engel, is absolutely not, there's not much variation in the tone because he's telling the story from a first-person perspective. The writing is very smart, and it's very funny, but it's also very self-aware. Davidson puts on some writerly flash for his reader that gets a little bit wearing at times.
Nonetheless, the story is so compelling I can't quit. It's odd...sort of like The Time Traveler's Wife was odd. The situation is impossible (if Engel is telling the truth about her 13th century roots), or maybe she's just a nut. Following the protagonist's line of self-questioning and doubt is one of my favorite parts of the book.
There are also stunning flashes of history. Supposedly Engel began her life in a monastery, with a terrific--possibly Divine--gift for languages. She works as a scribe, and the descriptions of monastic life and her work in the scriptorium are excellent. Engel also tells the protagonist exotic tales about heartbreak and loss from plague-ridden Italy, to the orient, to the rocky coasts of England.
In short, this book is never boring, although I would like to slap Mr. Nameless (my name for the burned guy telling the story) sometimes.