Monday, December 8, 2008

Thank you, Civ Lit

At my college there were six "Civilization" classes everyone had to take. Sadly, I can't remember the names of all the classes (which just freaks me out...if my memory is already going in my 20s, I fear my 40s) but I do remember Civ Lit. The real name was something like "Civilization and Literature" and was basically an English class.

In that class, we read all Dante's Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. I'm happy I had to read those works; more than likely, I wouldn't have gravitated to them on my own. And if I hadn't have read Inferno, much of Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle would've been lost on me.

This is another buzzed-about book--and with good cause. I think I read somewhere it took Davidson years to write it.

The story is about an unamed narrator, which to my shame, I was on page 419 when I suddenly realized I had no idea what his name was. Clearly my observation skills are still very, very lacking. Anyway, the narrator is a coke addict and a porn actor/writer/director. He's not a great guy. In the first few pages, he's in a car addict and is horribly burned. Davidson doesn't spare the reader in describing the suffering burn addicts go through. Let's just say while reading this book I may have prayed a few times that I'd never suffer such horrible burns.

The narrator is plotting his death when Marianne Engel shows up at his bedside, announcing that they were lovers in the 14th century. She weaves their tale together with other tales, creating sort of a Canterbury Tales-esque feel to the book. The book is also populated with Inferno images, as well.

The story is ultimately about redemption and true love. While it's certainly a different style of writing than I generally choose, it was still thoroughly engrossing. The ending wasn't completely satisfactory for me; I won't go into details because I don't want to spoil it, but yeah, I just wanted more. Still, all in all, the story deserves most of the buzz it has received.

Rating: 8.5/10

1 comment:

monnibo said...

I really enjoyed The Gargoyle too!
Here's my review, if curious: