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The Gargoyle Hunters: Book summary and reviews of The Gargoyle Hunters by John Freeman Gill

The Gargoyle Hunters

by John Freeman Gill

The Gargoyle Hunters by John Freeman Gill X
The Gargoyle Hunters by John Freeman Gill
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2017
    352 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

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, thirteen-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 nineteenth-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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A bildungsroman rich with symbolism, wistful memory, and unabashed longing, this is a remarkably tender love letter to a city and historical fiction par excellence." - Booklist

"Flawed but intriguing ... Griffin himself is a winning narrator striving to map his place within urban and familial landscapes in a bewildering state of flux." - Publishers Weekly

"A portrait of 1970s New York that's sturdy if sometimes stiff." - Kirkus

"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 thirteen-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." - Gretchen Rubin, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Project

"The Gargoyle Hunters is that rarest of all animals - a beautifully written literary novel that also just happens to be a rollicking, cinematic, ripsnortingly funny tale with action sequences as exciting as those of Hollywood's best films. Ever wonder how a father and son could possibly steal an entire New York City building, cornice to curb? Here's your chance to find out." - Doug Liman, director of The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and Edge of Tomorrow

The information about The Gargoyle Hunters shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

John Freeman Gill

John Freeman Gill is a native New Yorker and longtime New York Times contributor whose work has been anthologized in The New York Times Book of New York and More New York Stories: The Best of the City Section of The New York Times. He is the architecture and real estate editor of Avenue magazine, for which he writes "Edifice Complex," a monthly column exploring the biographies of historic New York City buildings and their occupants. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Observer, the International Herald Tribune, Premiere, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. A summa cum laude graduate of Yale University, where he won two prizes and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, he received an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. He lives in New York City with his wife, three children, and a smattering of gargoyles.

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