Tags: Margaret George, lauren groff, Alan Drew, Gardens of Water, Patrick McGrath, The Monsters of Templeton, The Autobiography of Henry VIII, birthday, Songs for the Missing, Love is a Mix Tape, Rob Sheffield, Trauma, Stewart O'Nan, Aberrations, Penelope Przekop, The Gargoyle, Andrew Davidson, Sweetsmoke, David Fuller, The Last Queen, C.W. Gortner, blogging year in review
Well, the day has finally arrived and I can no longer say that I am 36. Well, I was born at around 9:50pm, so I could wait to say I’m 37 until tonight, but that’s being a little ridiculous (although if you agree with the whole date and time thing, you’ll make me exceedingly happy right up until 9:49pm).
Seriously, 36 was a wonderful year. I feel that I’ve come into my own in my career and as a book blogger. I have read 70 books since my last birthday and have reviewed 64. It would be hard for me to pick out a favorite from during that time, but the books that have stood out in my 37th year are The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff, Gardens of Water by Alan Drew, The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner, The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George, The Witch’s Trinity by Erika Mailman, Trauma by Patrick McGrath, Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan, Aberrations by Penelope Przekop, The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, and Sweetsmoke by David Fuller.
The best blogging experience I had personally revolved around Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield. I bought this book for my husband, but read it first. Little did either of us know that this would have a personal connection for my husband. He was friends with Rob’s wife Renee. We had a great time going through his pictures from that era and we posted one of Renee. It always irritates me when there is no pictures in memoirs because I want to know what the people look like. In this case, Danny was able to supply that for me. It was also really neat to listen to the tape of his band singing The Beverly Hillbillies theme song to the tune of R.E.M.’s Talk about the Passion. That whole experience was wonderful.
Best of all, I’ve met some of the most wonderful people last year. From authors, to publicists, to my fellow book bloggers, to my readers. I won’t name any because I don’t want to leave anyone out. My life is richer because of you all.
I hope that everyone has a beautiful, beautiful day!
Tags: Andrew Davidson, Book World, Ron Charles, The Gargoyle, thoughtful review versus jank review, Washington Post
Over the weekend my opinion of book reviewers (and those who talk about book bloggers as if they know us) in the mainstream media was trounced. How someone could actually read The Gargoyle and then simply dismiss it so flippantly completely floors me. If you did not like the book, it still deserves more than some snarky jokes to make the reviewer look good (in his own eyes at least). While Entertainment Weekly’s review was jank (I’ve been watching too much iCarly with my daughters), the Washington Post ran a thoughtful review written Ron Charles, a senior editor at Book World. Here are the opening and closing paragraphs to that review:
In the opening pages of The Gargoyle, Andrew Davidson’s outrageous new novel, a pornographer high on cocaine runs his car off a mountain road. The vehicle bursts into flames and burns him to a crisp. Welcome to the pain-riddled world of an acerbic, 35-year-old man who loses everything in those fiery minutes: his career, his fortune, his skin — all broiled away. This is a story for people who like their literary entertainment well done.
The Christian mythology gets a bit heavy toward the end, and The Gargoyle is overcooked by at least 75 pages, but nothing is certain in this swirling novel of tales and legends. The narrator has seen enough horror movies to know that “a burn victim may ‘get the girl’ — but usually only with a pickax.” After all, he admits, “Marianne Engel’s love for me seemed built on so flimsy a premise that I assumed it would come apart.” Nothing he — or you — can assume about this spectacularly imaginative journey will help navigate its twists and turns. Before it’s all over, like Dante before him, our narrator must visit Hades, and like every chapter of The Gargoyle, that’s a hell of a story, too.
Thank you, Ron Charles and the Washington Post. You’ve headed off my admittedly immature response to completely shut out any and all reviews and commentary about book bloggers at the pass.
Tags: Andrew Davidson, Entertainment Weekly, glowing reviews, The Gargoyle
My weekly copy of Entertainment Weekly arrived in the mail today. Per usual when there isn’t an article by Stephen King (I absolutely love his monthly articles!), I went straight to the back to the book review section. I instantly smiled when I saw a picture of Andrew Davidson along with the review of The Gargoyle. My smile didn’t last long, however, when I saw the grade – D. D? I couldn’t believe it. I read the review and I was astonished. The text is short, so I’ll repeat it here:
Doubleday ponied up a reported $1.25 million for Andrew Davidson’s debut novel, The Gargoyle — and if they were paying for just the unintentionally hilarious sentences, that would work out to about $10,000 per howler. This much-hyped book is eye-bulgingly atrocious, packed with medieval history to disguise prose that’s worse than your average Dungeons & Dragons blog. The unnamed narrator is a repugnant coke-addled porno actor (credits include Doctor Giving Bone, I Presume) who, in the first scene, burns himself alive after driving off a bridge while high. He spends the first never-ending 200 pages of the book in the hospital getting taunted by a chatty ”bitchsnake” who lives in his spine, prompting a Herculean bit of alliteration that sounds like Dante’s Inferno translated by Dr. Seuss: ”The sibilant sermons of the snake as she discoursed upon the disposition of my sinner’s soul seemed ceaseless.” Ssssseriously?
Soon, a woman enters — the tattooed Marianne, a carver of stone gargoyles by day who insists that she and the narrator were lovers in the 14th century, when she was a nun and he carried a crossbow. Gradually, the shriveled porno-actor gargoyle learns — awww — to love. But first, Marianne has an amusing moment while eating vegetarian pizza naked. ”A cheese strand dangled from her mouth to the edge of her left nipple,” the narrator reports, ”and I wanted to rappel it like a mozzarella commando to storm her lovely breasts.” The real expert on cheese here is Davidson.
I will willingly concede that my opinion of a book is not Gospel. However, I’m not alone by a long shot. Here is a collection of not only positive reviews of The Gargoyle, but glowing reviews.
I’m sure there are more and I’d be thrilled to add your voice to my little collection of praise for this wonderful novel. I would also like to suggest that you go to Entertainment Weekly’s website and submit your own grade for this novel. I’d hate for one man’s opinion (Gregory Kirschling) of this novel prevent people from picking up this novel just because it’s in a popular magazine.
Tags: Andrew Davidson, burn victim, car crash, debridement, mental illness, morphine addiction, past lives, schizophrenia, The Gargoyle, the power of love
Death often brings about new life. After his near fatal car crash that left him permanently disfigured and emasculated by a significant amount of 3rd degree burns, the unnamed narrator of this novel spent a great deal of his lengthy hospital stay planning his eventual suicide. His life as a porn star and producer of adult films went up in smoke like his skin. He had no interest in making a new life after the death of his good looks and his livelihood – at least not until Marianne Engel, a patient in the hospital’s mental health unit, unexpectedly begins visiting his bedside and telling him how their lives have been intertwined now for several hundred years.
The Gargoyle follows the narrator through his hospital recovery and beyond in a compelling way. While the narrator’s salacious past and gruesome present are fascinating, Marianne Engel’s stories are poetic, mystical, and engrossing. I do not want to reveal too much of the plot here. It’s best to go into this book knowing as little as possible. Just expect to go on a ride like no other. One image that has not left me since reading this book is of the woman who stands watch for an hour each day by the edge of the cliff, never losing hope that her beloved husband will return. I can smell the salt in the air as the breeze whips her hair about in the wind. Her anguish makes that story of love all the more beautiful. There is no down time in this book. Each section moves the story forward.
Words cannot accurately express how intense and wonderful The Gargoyle is. From the first scenes of the unnamed protagonist’s fiery car crash to the conclusion, I was hooked into his world of burnt flesh and the possibility of a love strong enough to be tested by fire over and over again. It was a pleasure to go to hell and back with Andrew Davidson. This book is inspiring. It will encourage its readers to write. It will encourage its readers to come back again. Trust me, you definitely must read this book.
To buy this novel, click here.