Could a debut novel about a drug-addicted porn star, burned to a crisp in a fiery car crash, be one of the year's hottest books?The Gargoyle
, by Canadian Andrew Davidson has just hit the stores (05.08.08) but booksellers think it's a winner.
"I can't think of anything quite like it," says Sheryl Cotleur of Book Passage in Corte Madera, Calif., who says the novel "has more depth" than other recent came-out-of-nowhere blockbusters like The Historian
. "I think it's The Da Vinci Code
, but 10 times better."The Gargoyle
's story line focuses heavily on the unnamed protagonist's medical treatments, but the novel also is a love story. The burn victim gains a reason to live thanks to hospital visits from an artist named Marianne Engel, who sculpts gargoyles. She tells the injured man she knew and loved him 700 years ago in medieval Germany. She may be crazy, but he can't help but love her.
It took Davidson seven years to write the book, which is rich in historical detail and has numerous references to Dante's Inferno.
Buzz began last year when Doubleday acquired the book for $1.25 million.
Doubleday won't say how much it's spending to promote The Gargoyle— the first printing is 125,000 copies — but the marketing campaign is "substantial," says spokeswoman Alison Rich.
The campaign is burning up online. At burnedbylove.com, visitors are sharing details about intense relationships. A Gargoyle Flickr Group lets people post gargoyle photos. There's content on MySpace, Facebook and Doubleday's YouTube channel.
"It's definitely our most ambitious in terms of creating a campaign that engages the current social-networked way people are using the Net," says Doubleday's Jeffrey Yamaguchi.
And booksellers, including Borders and Barnes & Noble, are predicting instant success.
"We feel that after the first week it will be on the best-seller lists, and it will continue to sell well into the holiday season," says Barnes & Noble's Bob Wietrak.