Monday, September 12, 2011

Book Review - "The Gargoyle"

I haven't written about books here before but I've been prompted to start because of The Gargoyle.

I don't know why I bought this book.  A couple of months ago I was buying something else on Amazon and decided to treat myself to a couple of novels.  I was thinking ahead to having some holiday time and had just paid some cheques into my account and I decided I could probably afford it so long as I got on with it and spent the money on books before I noticed it was needed for something else.  The book may have been recommended to me by a friend but I'm beginning to doubt that.  Perhaps I just liked the sound of it and it was part of a "Buy all three for a knock-down price" package.

I've been gradually getting back into reading this year.  Finding the odd time to pick up a book again.  It's part of getting back a life but it's something I've found difficulty finding time for in the last six or seven years, to be honest.  As always, reading has been more concentrated into holiday time than any other time but I've mentioned that holiday time has been rather sparse round here so reading has more or less fallen by the wayside for some years.

So then The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson fell into my lap. 

The blurb on the back uses words like "engrossing, spectacularly imaginative, extraordinary, romance".  "The pages almost turn themselves."  (What?!)  I think it's supposed, amongst other things, to be about the ultimate quality of love.  Or possibly the quality of ultimate love.

The descriptions are thorough.  Emotions of many kinds are described at great length, with detail, embellished by all the sorts of things you expect in magical realism, which should have been a warning to me as I'm not really a fan. 

I've spent the morning, the first of my holiday, finishing the book.  I always want to get to the end, to find out what's going to happen and in that respect this book was no different.  I like to tie up loose ends.  Follow the threads that start early on in the book and find out where they lead.  Well, I did that.

But I really, really disliked the book.  And this is very rare for me.  I'll read all kinds of rubbish just to find out what happens to people.

Over the past few weeks I've been wondering what it was that I was disliking but this morning it has become clear.  I didn't care about anything or anyone in the book.  I felt nothing except boredom. All that excessive description but nothing moved me.  Passion was written about but seemed to me to be entirely absent in itself.  It really felt more like an academic exercise, proof that it could be done.  I think a book should make me feel something, anything.  Writing is an art form and what's the point of any art form if it raises no reaction in the viewer?

It reminds me of a painter I knew.  He was well thought of.  Well, he was certainly well thought of by himself.  Had been to art college, studied properly and poured scorn on anyone calling themselves an artist who hadn't had that proper training.  He could execute a picture very well, no doubt about that.  When I looked at his pictures, though, I always thought, "Why?"  "What did you feel that prompted you to paint this picture?"  or even "What am I supposed to feel when I look at this picture?"

The Gargoyle is rather the same.  Yes, it's possibly clever, ties in all kinds of different layers of things which have been well researched.  It may even be well written. 

But why?

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