Hilarious and poignant, The Gargoyle Hunters is a love letter to a vanishing city, and a deeply emotional story of fathers and sons. Intimately portraying New York's elbow-jostling relationship with time, the novel solves the mystery of a brazen and seemingly impossible architectural heist - the theft of an entire historic Manhattan building - that stunned the city and made the front page of the New York Times in 1974.
With both his family and his city fracturing, 13-year-old Griffin Watts is recruited into his estranged father's illicit and dangerous architectural salvage business. Small and nimble, Griffin is charged with stealing exuberantly expressive 19th-century architectural sculptures - gargoyles - right off the faces of unsung tenements and iconic skyscrapers all over town. As his father explains it, these gargoyles, carved and cast by immigrant artisans during the city's architectural glory days, are an endangered species in this era of sweeping urban renewal.
Desperate both to connect with his father and to raise cash to pay the mortgage on the brownstone where he lives with his mother and sister, Griffin is slow to recognize that his father's deepening obsession with preserving the architectural treasures of Beaux Arts New York is also a destructive force, imperiling Griffin's friendships, his relationship with his very first girlfriend, and even his life.
As his father grows increasingly possessive of both Griffin's mother and his scavenged touchstones of the lost city, Griffin must learn how to build himself into the person he wants to become and discover which parts of his life can be salvaged - and which parts must be let go. Maybe loss, he reflects, is the only thing no one can ever take away from you.
Tender, funny, and achingly sad, The Gargoyle Hunters introduces an extraordinary new novelist.
"In the spirit of Jonathan Lethem and J. D. Salinger, John Freeman Gill strips the mask off New York City in this poignant, incisive, irreverent novel about fatherhood, art, obsession, creation, and destruction. This novel salvages so many things, not least our abiding relationship with the past. This is a wonderful, compelling debut." (Colum McCann, National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin and TransAtlantic)
"The Gargoyle Hunters is wonderful, strong, funny, with yards and yards of beautiful writing. Its pages are full of reading pleasures.... Extraordinary." (Annie Proulx, Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning author of The Shipping News and "Brokeback Mountain")
"John Freeman Gill's The Gargoyle Hunters is a brilliant evocation of many things: the world of a 13-year-old boy, with its mixture of thoughtless destructiveness and wrenching emotion; a son's relationship with a charismatic, architecture-loving, thieving father; the endless changes to timeless Manhattan during the crumbling, tumultuous 1970s. Funny, heartbreaking, elegiac, unforgettable - David Mitchell's Black Swan Green meets E. B. White's Here Is New York." (Gretchen Rubin, number-one New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Project)
We've sent an email with your order details. Order ID #:
To access this title, visit your library in the app or on the desktop website.
Love is fleeting, even when it's cast in stone.
The audible edition of Mr. Gill's adventuresome tale frees you to multi-task and go about your day while keeping pace with his energetic thirteen year old hero. The author's passion for architecture and its elements comes through in his voice and expression as a boy encountering them for the first time. The boy's father salvages architectural elements and it is this dodgy activity that bonds them, but is in no way their salvation.
There are a number of Harold Lloyd moments. One when our hero, Griffin, in the middle of the night, at great height, is clinging to a spire in an attempt to harvest a gargoyle.
This was the first performance of his that I've listened to. I can only compare it to other authors. He manages to convey the energy and enthusiasm of his thirteen year old hero consistently, start to finish. His delivery and annunciation are so professional that it's surprising that up until now he worked exclusively in print.
Griffin is the most memorable and his sister Quigley is also memorable. These adolescents whose needs are barely met by their self-absorbed parents, manage to find their niches and mentors to hone their talents. Their survival is in their own hands.
New York City story
- Michael Ferris