American Gargoyles: Flannery O'Connor and the Medieval Grotesque

By Anthony Di Renzo | Go to book overview

Preface

T he idea for this book dates back to 1 November 1980. That was the day I tried returning a gargoyle to a novelty shop near Syracuse University. The gargoyle had been a prop for a comedy special on campus television, a parody of The Exorcist set in a network news studio. Bedeviled by inexplicable technical problems, however, the live broadcast on Halloween had been a disaster. The teleprompter had malfunctioned, the mikes had produced feedback, the scenery had cracked, and the control board had short-circuited. Not surprisingly, the superstitious television crew blamed the gargoyle; and since using the statue had been my idea, the producer ordered me to get rid of it. I accepted my penance philosophically. After all, tomorrow was All Saints' Day, and if you couldn't unload a gargoyle on All Saints' Day, when could you? But the clerk at the novelty shop didn't see it that way. Gargoyles, apparently, were nonrefundable. "Looks like you've got a friend for life," he said, his Cheshire grin matching the gargoyle's. He added that trying to disown the damn thing would only compound the jinx. I was stuck with it forever (heh, heh), and there was nothing I could do about it.

As a consolation prize for being saddled with a monstrosity, I visited the university bookstore. I was so preoccupied with the Halloween fiasco and the way the clerk had stonewalled me that I forgot to check the gargoyle at the door. I wandered abstractly through the stacks, the statue -- a squat, wingless griffin with a lopsided mouth -- tucked under my arm. I was dimly aware that people were staring but was too morose to care. When I reached the paperback section, however, I perked up. A bizarre book cover had caught my eye. Seated behind the wheel of a beat-up jalopy was a country preacher

-xi-

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