I’m in the middle of a few books, as always, but one book is having to take preference over the others because it’s a library book, due back next Tuesday and I won’t be able to renew it. Well, I could take it back late and pay an overdue fine, but I hate to do that.
The book is The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. I wrote a bit about this book in yesterday’s post on Library Loot, where I said that after a few pages I nearly gave up on it because of the graphic descriptions of burning skin and flesh, but that it had got better when the unnamed narrator met Marianne Engel, a wild and compelling sculptress of gargoyles and she starts to tell him tales of the time when they were once lovers in medieval Germany.
The book alternates between recounting their present day life and Marianne Engel’s stories of their past life. The good things I do like about this book are the many references to Dante’s Inferno, which I still haven’t read, the religious references and what life was like in medieval Germany.
But there are annoying things about the book that maybe wouldn’t be so annoying if I could read it more slowly. This is a book with stories within stories – the stories Marianne Engel tells are good, but there are too many of them. When she says “Would you like to hear a story?” I think no, not another one. If I was able to take more time I’d put the book down after reading one of these before going on with the book. As I don’t have that time I find myself reading impatiently, wanting to get on with the main story. For another thing I don’t like reading lots of lists of things – the list of food Marianne brings him to eat for example made me slide my eyes over the page – in the middle of this list the narrator even inserts this in brackets “(just checking to see if you’re still reading)”. I was – just.
The pages are suitably black-edged. It looks charred as though it had been burned and because I’m the first person to read the book they’re still stuck together and I have to gently prise them open. They make a crackling noise and slow down my reading – not good for reading to a deadline.
I think the main problems though are that I normally read several books at a time moving from one to the other – it’s a bit like watching different programmes on TV – in several installments. I’m not used to reading only one book. And of course, that terrible feeling of time running out is reminding me of revising for exams, or of having to finish a report for work. It does really take the enjoyment element away from reading until it starts to feel like a chore.