Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Sunday Salon - Must. Finish. Quickly!


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.

15 comments:

  1. I loved this book! There are several other reviews I've read where people had trouble at the beginning. You will LOVE this book. I hope you feel better.

    I have a cold too!

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  2. I am glad to hear you are enjoying The Gargoyle. I am looking forward to reading it one of these days. Oh for another several hours in the day! Or a longer weekend. And maybe a maid/chef.

    Have a great week, Andi!

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  3. I just ordered this, but I won't actually get to pick it up until Christmas. Ordered in Canada, much cheaper than in Japan, sent to dad's address... anyway, I can't wait to read it, I've heard so many raves about it. Good luck staying awake to finish it off! :P

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  4. I saw this in the bookshop a few days ago and both cover and description really appealed to me. I have found books in the past that have had a tone or style that annoyed me, such as The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt, but I still really enjoyed it! I'm intrigued now..

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  5. The last time I was faced with this dilemma was when I was reading Little Brother, but it was worse because I was flying away the next day and couldn't take it with me. So I stayed up late reading in the bathroom to finish it. But it was worth it!

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  6. This book sounds really good, I hope you are able to finish it without a late fee :) I have to return some books today, I'm just too lazy to leave my house yet...

    Kim

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  7. I've been tempted by this book so many times, but haven't yet brought it home. I'll be interested to hear how you like the rest of it.

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  8. Why are you wasting time talking to us? Get reading!

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  9. Hope you got it read. I spent 6 glorious hours today reading this, I loved all the various stories she told and the language. I nearly put it down after a couple of pages as his description of flesh burning was just sickening. I often wonder just how sane authors are to be able create such descriptions. Off to write my review now

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  10. Well, I guess I'll have to give my ARC another try. Glad to hear you like it, but sorry you have a cold. Seems like everyone is getting a cold! I think I'm trying to get one as well.

    And you know, it's weird, but I'm always sick on my birthday too. I hope you are better by then!

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  11. You've sold me. I'm definitely going off to check this book out as it sounds really good. Great review!

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  12. I've been wanting to read this one so I'm glad you're enjoying it so much!

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  13. I wanna read this! Hope you were able to fight the drowsiness from the meds and could finish your book. Tell us more!

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  14. Sher, you were absolutely right. I LOVED it!

    Wendy, isn't that the truth? There just isn't enough time is there?

    Thanks, Nat! I think you'll really like this one, and I'm looking forward to your review when you get around to it.

    Mariel, luckily this is one of those cases where even my small annoyances with the writing disappeared because the story was SO GREAT. I loved it, and I hope you do, too, if you decide to read it. It definitly lives up to the cover. :)

    LOL, Lenore! I didn't get to finish it yesterday as I'd planned, but my mother will be dropping it into the library's drop box in a little while. I snuck in just under the wire.

    Kim, I just made it! Yayyy for avoiding the late fee.

    Loved it, Dewey. LOVED. I would really like to know your thoughts on it, so give into the temptation already. ;)

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  15. LOL, Stu! Good point.

    Katrina, I wish I could've spent six hours. It would've been BLISSFUL. I had to stretch it out a bit more, but I just loved it.

    HEATHER, how'd you swing an ARC of this one???!!!! I'm so envious. lol I think you'll LOVE IT. LOVE. Like it's one of my faves and you must read it ASAP so I'll know if we're really truly reading twins. OK, so I already know we are, but I do hope you like it as much as I did.

    Samantha, enjoy! I wish I was reading it again for the first time!

    Krishna, loved it! Pure, gushing love!

    Iliana, I can't wait to gush about this one!

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