Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (or laughter is the best medicine)

Having faced the inevitable writer's rite of passage (multiple times over): In other words form letter rejections from both publishers and even the occasional literary agent, is it mere snotty envy that I take delight in EW's review of Andrew Davidson's debut novel The Gargoyle? Actually I think it's more a matter of being perplexed how a book described as "eye-bulgingly atrocious" and sporting prose "worse than your average Dungeons & Dragons blog" would garner a $1.25 million advance from Doubleday.

Granted loads of rotten genre novels get published but the bidding wars are usually reserved for stuff that is at least competent. This doesn't sound like the case with Davidson's debut. I haven't read it and have no intention of doing so but based on the few brief examples offered up by EW critic Gregory Kirschling The Gargoyle contains prose so purple that Davidson should expect a call from Prince's tailor wanting to turn his words into fabric.

The premise is decidedly "high-concept" (in Hollywood parlance that means an often lowbrow, idea that doesn't seem as blatantly derivative as most other Hollywood ideas...for instance Danny DeVito as Ahnold's "twin" brother leads to the movie Twins; such is high concept).

Davidson's high concept is a novel narrated by a coke-addled porno actor (no that's not it...wait for it) who after a tragic self-inflicted accident lay in the hospital for the book's initial 200-pages having a verbal debate with a "bitchsnake" that inhabits his spine (yes, that's the stuff! Paging David O. Russell).

EW quotes this hideous bit of alliterative prose that Davidson no doubt thought was well clever: "The sibilant sermons of the snake as she discoursed upon the disposition of my sinner's soul seemed ceaseless." Somewhere Papa Hemingway is sharpening a hunting knife with Davidson's fingers in mind.

But for a real howler, reviewer Kirschling excerpts this instant classic from Davidson, describing his main character's love interest eating vegetarian pizza in the nude: "A cheese strand dangled from her mouth to the edge of her left nipple and I wanted to rappel it like a mozzarella commando to storm her lovely breasts."

Reading that line makes you wonder if Davidson intended to write comedy. Either that or he truly is the Ed Wood of novelists.

Still while I may laugh at Davidson's hilarious ineptitude, it's he who is the millionaire based on a debut novel, and me who wonders how many more miles I can drive with the gas warning light perpetually lit in my dopey used car. Pass the mozzarella.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really do sympathise with your mixture of shock, awe, and even envy. Davidson's Gothic coup d'etat, and Benjamin Hoff's letter lambasting the publishing industry, has once and for all convinced me to write only for the personal pleasure of it. Maybe I should have done that all along; but I harboured some notion of publishing more than the odd piece.

Davidson's book is crafted to a certain degree: he's reworked Dante in such an obvious way that'll appeal to pseudo-intellectuals the world over. Most writers would have been ashamed to have done such a rip off job of a classic. But so be it. THe writing is extremely verbose, wholly unbelievable, but not devoid of clever bits here and there.

Why 2 million dollars? Well, in a post-Potter world, with S. Meyer the top seller, I can only assume that %60 of the reading public wants to be 18 year old Cure fans.

If it's any consolation, no one will give a sh!t about this book in 5 years, if not sooner.

Still, you he had balls to send it off to a top agent, and market it as a 'tale of immortal love.'

Roleplayers the world over must be kicking themselves for having not done it sooner.