Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love.
It was Good Friday and the stars were just starting to dissolve into the dawn. As I drove, I stroked the scar on my chest, by habit. My eyes were heavy and my vision unfocused, not surprising given that I'd spent the night hunched over a mirror snorting away the bars of white powder that kept my face trapped in the glass. I believed I was keening my reflexes. I was wrong.
The unnamed narrator of The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson is very comtemporary cynic, physically handsome and sexually adept, who dwells int he vacuum that is modern life. At the beginning of the book, he is driving when he sees a flight of arrows cross his vision. He has a grave car accident and escapes with terible burns all over his body. As he recovers in a burn ward, his only thought is committing a carefully planned suicide.
This until he meets Marianne Engel, a beautiful, but clearly unhinged sculptress of gargoyles who claims that they once were lovers in medieval Germany. Marianne entertains the narrator with great love stories set all over the world: unrequited gay love in Viking Iceland that ends in tragedy; the untimely water death of a husband in England and it's aftermath; a Japanese woman making the ultimate sacrifice not only for her lover but for her father; an Italian blacksmith who chooses a clean death versus the horrid one brought on by the plague that just killed his wife. And between all this, we get the story of a young Marianne, who in the fourteenth century becomes a skilled bookmaker and scribe at a famous monastery in Germany, and her true love, who shows up one day severely burnt after being struck with a flaming arrow.
The Gargoyle, while not the literary masterpiece that I expected after reading so many raving reviews, is a truly engrossing read. Rich in secondary stories and symbolism, it's a book not to be missed. Heavily recommended, though with the warning that there is quite a bit of graphic language and descriptions.