The Gargoyle Hunters

John Freeman Gill

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The Gargoyle Hunters

The Gargoyle Hunters 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 ti

  • Title: The Gargoyle Hunters
  • Author: John Freeman Gill
  • ISBN: 9781101946886
  • Page: 419
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 tHilarious 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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      Published :2019-01-07T10:15:27+00:00

    One thought on “The Gargoyle Hunters

    1. da AL on said:

      NY history, architecture lesson, & coming of age all in one! the 13-year-old boy was a bit too mature for his age, but maybe if one has a hoarder dad of mega-proportions one wisens up sooner? audiobook artist was great!

    2. Ron Charles on said:

      I know, I know — we need another novel about New York City the way New York City needs another skyscraper. But clear a little patch of ground for this unabashedly charming story by John Freeman Gill. For years, Gill has been writing about architecture and real estate, and now, at an age when most successful journalists would be content just to keep their careers in good repair, he’s embarked on a wholesale rehab. The result is “The Gargoyle Hunters,” a debut novel that’s billed as anot [...]

    3. Victoria on said:

      I was drawn to this book because it contained subject matter I would normally be over the moon about--NYC, architecture salvage, a heist--throw in a quirky family and set it in the '70's and you’ve hooked me. And did I mention I’m fascinated by building ornamentation especially gargoyles? I know, it’s a weird affectation, but there you have it. Yet there wasn’t a pilaster in here that could save the experience. It’s a testament to how much I wanted to love this book that even though I [...]

    4. Toni on said:

      Solid 4.0 to 4.5 stars.Incredible story about NYC architecture and landmarks saved and not saved in the name of "urban renewal" during the 1970s.An incredible, bizarre, wonderful history of New York City's Nineteenth Century landmarks and one obsessed man, who wanted to save them all. I wanted to love this character for his love and knowledge of these amazing architectural feats of old NYC, some that I've actually seen as a child; but I also wanted to shake him for his neglect of his wife and ch [...]

    5. Faith on said:

      This book is a coming of age story told by a 13 year old boy who's father's obsession is the rescue of architectural details from the beautiful old buildings in Manhattan, as they are torn down and replaced by soulless office buildings and condos. The book is also an homage to those beautiful buildings and a nostalgic tour of Manhattan in the 1970s.The coming of age story is pleasant but without emotional impact. The disappearance of people from the boy's life is of no more import than the closi [...]

    6. Paula Schumm on said:

      I listened to the audiobook from the library. This is a novel about NYC architecture and one man's twisted way of saving the past. His son, wanting to bond with his otherwise absent dad, is lured into dangerous escapades. The Gargoyle Hunters takes place in the 1970's, but I LOVE the modern-day ending. Recommended.

    7. Roxanne on said:

      This is a giveaway. This is a fascinating book about the changes in bulidings that have built in NYC. I have never been to New York before and I had no idea how much history in the buldings.

    8. Allan on said:

      I expected more from this, given its recommendation by NYT, and while the premise of salvaging the city's past was an interesting one, the fact that it took me over a fortnight to finish a book set in 1970s New York tells its own story

    9. Tom Swift on said:

      I really wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I love novels set in New York, and there are plenty to choose from. The architecture of the city is amazing, I have traveled there over 50 times on business and pleasure. I enjoyed the descriptions and the back stories of the immigrants who were true artisans.The plot left me wanting a lot more. I am going to look for a non fiction book on the Gargoyles of New York. 2.5 stars

    10. Matthew on said:

      Were we to deconstruct John Freeman Gill’s whimsically delightful adventure The Gargoyle Hunters to a Venn diagram, it would include the works of several iconic authors –Tartt, Franzen & Salinger immediately coming to mind, amongst others. Yet the novel is more than just homage to literary giants; it’s a tale of rebuilding what’s fractured, even if the broken seems unsalvageable.To what levels does one reach out of desperation? Recruited to be part of his wayward father’s illegal a [...]

    11. Jane on said:

      Back in the 1970s, I was a proud member of the Cast Iron Society of New York. I joined because the membership card had a magnet glued to the back. (Come on. Pretty cool, no?) You could toss the card at a building's facade, and if it stuck, yes! It was cast iron under all that paint. Anyone who walks around New York City with his head in the air as I do, admiring the wealth of architectural detail, will love this book. Having finished it, I'm happily doing the imaginary casting for the movie whic [...]

    12. Mary Morris on said:

      I love this book and, full disclosure, also blurbed it, but if you want to read a wonderful story about New York and its building and a boy and his father, this is a wonderful book for you. Great coming of age story.

    13. Shorty on said:

      The audiobook was narrated by the author, Gill. It is a fascinating (and hopefully completely true) account of this man’s childhood, and father’s obsession with His City, and it’s buildings.While some parts of this novel may seemed to have dragged on, for some reviewers, sticking with it until the very end is worth it. (And while the ending was not surprising, it was rather sad).3.5 stars, and recommended.

    14. Stephanie on said:

      A Whole New World: "The Gargoyle Hunters" by John Freeman Gill From the Militant Recommender Book Review Blogmilitantrecommender/Author John Freeman Gill's thrilling debut novel, The Gargoyle Hunters, takes you on an astonishing and breathtaking journey into a subculture of 1970s New York City that most of us never realized existed the subculture of salvaging artifacts from buildings that were designed by architects and sculptors to withstand the ages. Buildings adorned with all manner of stone [...]

    15. Hilary Reyl on said:

      The Gargoyle Hunters is deeply moving, gorgeously written and fast-paced. It whisks you through the ever changing landscape of New York City in the 1970s, pausing just long enough on its architectural wonders for you to fall in love with them before you watch them disappear. The adolescent narrator, Griffin, is initiated into his father's nocturnal business of "rescuing" winged goddesses, lions and gargoyles from buildings on the verge of destruction. It is at once thrilling and terrifying to be [...]

    16. Kate on said:

      If you think New York City is one that is always changing, this book is for you! A bonus for me was that it was written about a teenager during the 70's so a book that mentions Zoom-the Ubby Dubby language and all sorts of other 70's oddities made it fun just for that reason. I learned so much architectural history from reading this book and what a fascinating concept.

    17. nikkia neil on said:

      Thanks to Edelweiss for this ARC.This is a feat of a story. It's not often I get to read a boy's point of view from teenage to adult written in so honest and from the heart. A modern story all the way- this will start a fire in any book club or reading group!

    18. Geonn Cannon on said:

      Beautifully written. You'll want a phone with internet nearby to fully appreciate the buildings he describes. Google got a workout while I was reading this one.

    19. Truman32 on said:

      There are many different parenting styles: authoritative, permissive, authoritarian, etc. There are “helicopter” parents, “lawnmower” parents, and the classic, “washing machine on spin cycle” parents. Don’t forget the “agitated June Cleaver”, the “scary spider face” ones, and of course, the “glowing pineapple parents”. In John Freeman Gill’s novel, The Gargoyle Hunters, Griffin Watts’ father uses the peculiar method of dangling his son from New York City skyscrapers [...]

    20. Barbara (The Bibliophage) on said:

      Full review at TheBibliophageJohn Freeman Gill’s The Gargoyle Hunters is a paean to New York City architecture and bad parenting. It’s also a tender, hilarious coming of age story. Set in the 1970s, I did a lot of reminiscing as I read.In brief, Griffin Watts becomes a teen as he tells us the story of his life at the time. His parents are “creative types” who are newly separated. Griffin is navigating the changes in himself, his family, and the city around him. The main parental characte [...]

    21. Elizabeth on said:

      A coming of age story with an unusual twist. Thirteen-year-old New Yorker Griffin Watts has a dysfunctional family, a crush on an older girl, and a budding life of crime. His father, obsessed with "saving" architectural ornamentation from landmarks slated for demolition, recruits Griffin to break into buildings and scale rooftops to remove choice bits of stonework and terracotta, under sometimes hair-raising conditions. Despite his unusual nocturnal activities, Griffin is a fairly typical adoles [...]

    22. Janet on said:

      But that this weren't fiction: in the 1970's, a native New Yorker and his son, the narrator, make it their mission to surreptitiously rescue the iconic features of historical buildings which have been placed at risk by development. The absorbing tale is based on historical fact: many buildings with historical significance had their irreplaceable features destroyed by real estate moguls--one of whom has recently turned to politics--who couldn't take the time to save them.Any New York native who r [...]

    23. Anne on said:

      I like to think of myself as someone who "looks up" when I am in a city like Philadelphia or New York, but now I see that I was missing so much, even so. I believe this book has shown me how to look with new eyes, and I can't wait to try them out. I was utterly fascinated by the author's story of what happened to the Bogardus Building. It sent me scurrying to the internet to read all about "the building that was stolen twice". I love it when a book does that.

    24. Kathryn on said:

      Interesting coming of age story entwined with some history of NYC architecture.

    25. John Gill on said:

      Couldn't have enjoyed this book more if I'd written it myself.

    26. Jamie on said:

      I really wanted to like this more than I did. I tried. His writing almost seemed like he was trying too hard at times. Just because you know hundreds of erudite words, doesn't mean you have to sprinkle them throughout. I am not sure what I was expecting but it was not what the book ended up being. I do love Manhattan, and did learn quite a bit, which saved it for me.

    27. Jason Squire Fluck on said:

      Magnificently original debut novel from architectural aficionado and New York native John Freeman Gill. An unorthodox upbringing only seems odd to those on the outside: you don’t adapt to such an upbringing-you survive it; sometimes you thrive in it. Thirteen year old Griffin Watts’ parents split a long time ago, so the emotional absence of Griffin’s mother and the real absence of Griffin’s father, broken by random and infrequent visits, isn’t weird or unusual to Griffin: it’s what h [...]

    28. Julius Adams on said:

      Thank you for this beautiful book! Not only did I cry at the last words, on this our oldest son's 29th birthday (I feel what you wrote, deeply) I also feel this is truly a quintessential NY book. We lived on 89th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue for many years, in our small one bedroom, and watched the neighborhood change radically. Now we live in Queens, but still miss the city you describe. Just mentioning AGORA to my wife made her cry, as we too loved it, and we had many a good meal with fri [...]

    29. Dale Dewitt on said:

      This book turned out to be so much more than I originally thought. While on its surface it is a great story it becomes a touching coming-of-age story and serves to have the reader look to the past with an appreciation of what happened but also a hopefulness of what is to come. The backdrop of NYC and its repeated tear-down and build up and what is learned and lost along the way serves to guide Griffin into manhood while allowing us to be on the journey with him. With just a few characters and th [...]

    30. Cara Hinton on said:

      Loved how this book shows NYC that most people don't see unless they look UP. It gives lovely descriptions on the mostly hand carved statues that have been attached to the buildings over the years. This rich history is fascinating to read and made for a wonderful back drop for this book. The plot of the book seems very unlikely except with absent parentswhich this kid has two of them. Told from the perspective of the son, but not a young adult novel. I really enjoyed this book, and again chose i [...]

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