Andrew Davidson

Love is as strong as death, as hard as Hell. Death separates the soul from the body, but love separates all things from the soul. -- Meister Eckhart

When I preach, I usually speak of detachment and say that a man should be empty of self and all things; and secondly, that he should be reconstructed in the simple good that God is; and thirdly, that he should consider the great aristocracy which God has set up in the soul, such that by means of it man may wonderfully attain to God; and fourthly, of the purity of the divine nature. -- Meister Eckhart

Canadian writer Andrew Davidson (1969- ) shot to fame with his debut novel The Gargoyle.

The Gargoyle (2008) is a very strange dark Gothic novel. A young man, a porn star and owner of his own porn film company, high on cocaine and alcohol, comes off the road when he hallucinates that a band of mercenaries are shooting flaming arrows at him from the dark woods at the side of the road. He suffers very bad burns and it is touch and go whether or not he will survive. His only desire to recover is in order that he can walk out of the burns unit and take his own life. Until that is Marianne Engel walks into his ward and tells him she was born in 1300 and grew up in a monastery. She carves gargoyles, or as she puts it, releases them from the stone. She takes instructions from three masters who she talks to. [see BCID 7040079]

It's the only time in history that I've had a character appear and prompt me to write a book. Marianne Engel arrived looking pretty much like she does now with her full name, saying things. ... I said I can't take this any more, it's too much, you're bugging me too much, I'm ready to give you the attention you need.

The Gargoyle is an interesting mix of Edgar Allan Poe, Orhan Pamuk (My Name is Red) and Paulo Coelho. Comparisons have been made with Umberto Eco and The Name of the Rose.

Dante begins his tour of hell on Good Friday in the year 1300, the day and year that Marianne Engel is born. Good Friday is the day of Christ's crucifixion. Good Friday is where our narrator chooses to commence his story, the day of his car accident when he is almost burnt to a cinder. Like Dante, the narrator of The Gargoyle begins his journey in the woods, at the age of thirty-five. Contemplation of suicide occurs in early passages of The Inferno as well as The Gargoyle.

Two acrostics are formed across the novel's thirty-three chapters. When read in order, the first letter of every chapter spells out All things in a single book bound by love, derived from Dante's Paradiso, Canto XXXIII:

I saw within Its depths how It conceives
all things in a single volume bound by Love
of which the universe is the scattered leaves.

The last letter of every chapter spells out DIE LIEBE IST STARK WIE DER TOD, MARIANNE, meaning "Love is as strong as death, Marianne", from the sermon by Meister Eckhart quoted in the epigraph.

The Gargoyle was the result of seven years research. Andrew Davidson was offered an advance of $1.25 million!

The Gargoyle was shortlisted for Richard and Judy British Book Awards 2009.

Andrew Davidson was born in Pinawa, Manitoba, graduated in 1995 from the University of British Columbia with a BA in English literature, and has worked as a teacher in Japan for a number of years. He now lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Synchronicity: I read The Gargoyle in the weeks leading up to Good Friday!

Meister Eckhart was a Medieval theologian, mystic and philosopher. His teachings have been compared with Zen Buddhism. He was charged with heresy. Meister Eckhart was one of the three masters who instructed Marianne Engel.

(c) Keith Parkins 2009 -- March 2009 rev 0