25 October, 2021

LitStaff Pick: The Books We Wish We Could Read Again for the First Time

The Gargoyle
Andrew Davidson

It’s not often that I come across a book that prompts me to say, “Damn, let’s do that again,” where I wish I could scrub my brain of all foreknowledge and start from scratch, to bite into every word, cram those masterful, laser-cut sentences into my brain to enjoy anew. A book has to be something special, along the lines of a first date when the Boy of Your Dreams with the Impossibly Heavenly Name takes you to see The Princess Bride, later sneaks you into the job site of a movie theater under construction so you can dance in the moonlight, and then breaks into his father’s church so he can play the piano while you dream lazily, drunk on (what you think is) love, stretched across the front pew.

Yeah, some–few–books are that good.

For me, it would be Andrew Davidson’s The Gargoyle. Rich, painful, limitless, The Gargoyle pulled me in and held me hostage. I cried while I read it, which says a lot considering my heart is made of solid granite. I sensed the end was near; too few pages remained between my thumb and forefinger. That’s both the beauty and the horror of prose. It starts, but always with the promise of its imminent demise. When I reached the point of no return, I wanted to start over. I wanted to un-know how these two souls would lose and love and lose again; wanted to re-experience how hope springs eternal even when hope is the preoccupation of fools; begged to rediscover how the ultimate gift one person can give another is the gift of a boundless heart.

Please. If I’m ever diagnosed with a disease through which I lose my memories from one day to the next, make sure to leave The Gargoyle on my nightstand so I can wake up every morning and discover this haunting piece of literary ambrosia.

-Jennifer Sommersby

3 thoughts on “LitStaff Pick: The Books We Wish We Could Read Again for the First Time

  1. Mine would definitely be WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Despite being a classic, it took me by surprise. I've never been a "required reading list" type of reader, so I assumed I wouldn't be into it. Happily, I was wrong. Heathcliff is one of the most complex and interesting characters I've ever read. It's a shame I'll never get to experience meeting him for the first time again.

  2. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. Here is this group of people being held hostage in a mansion. The situation must come to an end, of course it must, but how? What sequence of events will finally end months of captivity in which the hostages and hostage-takers have bonded and the real world has come to seem like a dream?

    Also, The Alienist by Caleb Carr. Masterfully written mystery. I recall that I stayed up half the night to finish it.

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