Balls of Fire

A love story about a burn victim and a delusional goth sculptor! It's so crazy, it just might not work

The most-hyped debut novel of 2008 begins well for us but badly for its hero: his car runs off a cliff, and he gets burned over most of his body. His face melts into a monstrous scar. He is in chronic pain. His penis has been amputated. His life is over. He is a "spent, struck match."

Before the accident, the nameless hero of Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle (Doubleday; 468 pages) was a freakishly handsome, drug-addicted porn star who was also, deep breath, an orphan and a misunderstood genius who secretly wrote poetry. This is what Brits call overegging the pudding....

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