Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle is one of those books that has something for most every reader. This also makes it difficult to write about because there is so much that can be said regarding its content and meaning. The stripped down plotline features an unnamed narrator who is a drug user and a pornographer. The narrator was in a car accident and became severely burned in the subsequent fire. The majority of the book concerns his recovery and the relationships that form during this time, especially with Marianne Engel, a seemingly mentally ill woman that visits in the hospital.
Davidson was brilliant at showing how the power of love can transform even the most hardened soul that has gone through unspeakable horrors. Davidson did this through Marianne, the narrator's mystical soul mate from the middle ages. Marianne's journey to the narrator was an act of penance that lasted through several hundred years and in several different lives. Marianne's powerful love for the narrator overcame time and space to do heal and transform her burned mate.
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This book's religious imagery certainly appealed to me. Davidson took me to Germany and France of the 1300s and brought in theologians like Meister Eckhart, a Catholic mystic priest that certainly challenged the orthodox tendencies of the church at the time. There was a Dante-like journey into hell that forced the narrator to make significant life choices. There was also an epiphany that occurred after a meeting with the archangel Michael.
Even more than the religious imagery, there was an overarching spirituality in The Gargoyle that made it whole. Love itself is a spiritual realm that transcends time and space and is a fundamental element in all of the world's religions and spiritual traditions. What Davidson did was show how powerful love in both relationships with other people and a personal relationship one has with their soul. This was present in both the narrator's relationship with Marianne and with himself as a person. Davidson's language of love makes The Gargoyle a book that speaks a universal language, enabling it to be enjoyed by all readers, regardless of their belief system.