The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson is magnificent!! Of course, this is a personal bias, but I digress. Buy it HERE.
I know, I know. I'm an author and normally, authors will tell you that they can't pick just one. I used to think that way too, before I read this book!
I was in the 8th grade when my aunt Minette took me to Books-A-Million (it was the first time that I had ever been and I was very overwhelmed). She decided to buy me a book for my birthday and I was so excited. Even if she was torturing me by taking me to a mega store with hundreds of books to choose from and only two hours to pick a-yes, you read that correctly, one single-book. Spoiler: I didn't take 2 hours.
I hardly recall the time I spent scrambling through the place while she spoke to one of the workers. What I remember most was not the first pages of the book (I committed a taboo that day and didn't even skim it), nor the cover, but the simple, slightly vague, description on the back of the book. Something with a few details that immediately sent my brain on a mission to guess at the invisible words between lines of text amidst that warm feeling of a thick book against my palms. There was something about it that drew me in, like a magnet.
I have never had the same experience buying any other book to this day. Although, it may come as little surprise that I have a strong preference for physical books rather than other options (although I am more than glad that there are now other options as well). I often find myself musing over the pages or binge-reading the entire book even though it has been almost 12 years now. Somehow, no other book I have read since has been able to knock it down the ladder. Probably also because it is a little weird. And I like weird. Haha.
I am fairly certain that it will hold its place for the rest of my life at this point. Haha.
The book took a lot of love over just the first few years and I purchased another paperback and later, even the hardcover. I am sure that it will survive a good many more years as I don't read it as often as before, even though it holds the same place in my heart. Maybe one of you will enjoy it as much as I?
**Note: Even though I read this in 8th grade, this book is not a children's book by any means. Not really anyone in my family liked to read so they were always disinterested in what I was reading and did not care what I read. I have, as long as I can remember, read above my grade level.
To put this into perspective, for example , when I was a freshman in high school we were required to take government tests to see if we were "at grade level" for English/Literature (as well as our other general subjects). My freshman/1st-year test results showed that I had a junior in college (college, 3rd-year) reading level. So, please keep this in mind when I referenced my age.**
The following is a quote from the beginning of the book!!
"Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love.
It was Good Friday and the stars were just starting to dissolve into the dawn. As I drove, I stroked the scar on my chest, by habit. My eyes were heavy and my vision unfocused, not surprising given that I’d spent the night hunched over a mirror snorting away the bars of white powder that kept my face trapped in the glass. I believed I was keening my reflexes. I was wrong.
To one side of the curving road was a sharp drop down the mountain’s slope, and on the other was a dark wood. I tried to keep my eyes fixed ahead but I had the overwhelming feeling that something was waiting to ambush me from behind the trees, perhaps a troop of mercenaries. That’s how drug paranoia works, of course. My heart hammered as I gripped the steering wheel more tightly, sweat collecting at the base of my neck.
Between my legs I had wedged a bottle of bourbon, which I tried to pull out for another mouthful. I lost my grip on the bottle and it tumbled into my lap, spilling everywhere, before falling to the floorboard. I bent down to grab it before the remaining alcohol leaked out, and when my eyes were lifted I was greeted by the vision, the ridiculous vision, that set everything into motion. I saw a volley of burning arrows swarming out of the woods, directly at my car. Instinct took over and I jerked the steering wheel away from the forest that held my invisible attackers. This was not a good idea, because it threw my car up against the fencepost wires that separated me from the drop. There was the howl of metal on metal, the passenger door scraping against taut cables, and a dozen thuds as I bounced off the wood posts, each bang like electricity through a defibrillator.
I overcompensated and spun out into the oncoming lane, just missing a pickup truck. I pulled back too hard on the wheel, which sent me once again towards the guardrail. The cables snapped and flew everywhere at once, like the thrashing tentacles of a harpooned octopus. One cracked the windshield and I remember thinking how glad I was that it hadn’t hit me as the car fell through the arms of the convulsing brute.
There was a brief moment of weightlessness: a balancing point between air and earth, dirt and heaven. How strange, I thought, how like the moment between sleeping and falling when everything is beautifully surreal and nothing is corporeal. How like floating towards completion. But as often happens in that time between existing in the world and fading into dreams, this moment over the edge ended with the ruthless jerk back to awareness.
A car crash seems to take forever, and there is always a moment in which you believe that you can correct the error. Yes, you think, it’s true that I’m plummeting down the side of a mountain in a car that weighs about three thousand pounds. It’s true that it’s a hundred feet to the bottom of the gully. But I’m sure that if only I twist the steering wheel very hard to one side, everything will be okay.
Once you’ve spun that steering wheel around and found it doesn’t make any difference, you have this one clear, pure thought: Oh, shit. For a glorious moment, you achieve the empty bliss that Eastern philosophers spend their lives pursuing. But following this transcendence, your mind becomes a supercomputer capable of calculating the gyrations of your car, multiplying that by the speed of the fall over the angle of descent, factoring in Newton’s laws of motion and, in a split second, coming to the panicked conclusion that this is gonna hurt like hell."