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From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Alex Gilvarry

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8210147,013 (3.75)2
Member:bostonbibliophile
Title:From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant: A Novel
Authors:Alex Gilvarry
Info:Viking Adult (2012), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, post 9/11, signed

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From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant by Alex Gilvarry

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Alex Gilvarry has written an absolutely brilliant and entertaining novel. The premise is so outlandish – he combines a humorous satirical look at the fashion industry with eye-opening insights into the way “detainees” are treated at Guantanamo Prison. It doesn’t seem possible that these two storylines could be joined together in an interesting and compelling way, but Gilvarry does it. The book is written as the confession of Boy Hernandez, a Filipino immigrant with dreams of becoming a world famous designer. For most of the book, we learn of Boy’s journey from a Manila fashion school, where he was the second best student to a rival who hit the big time fast, to the streets of New York, where he arrives nearly penniless but dreams of the day when he’ll be able to showcase his own designs during Fashion Week at Bryant Park. When he stumbles upon a neighbor who offers to bankroll his ambitions, he willfully keeps a blind eye to that man’s shady business dealings. When his new partner, Ahmed, turns out to be an arms dealer, Boy, gets caught up in the post 911 paranoia and ends up in Guantanamo and has to write this confession to try to prove his innocence. Gilvarry’s portrayal of a designer’s mind – the way he looks at clothes, the way he brainstorms new ideas, and all the connections he has to leverage to make inroads into the business are fascinatingly portrayed. You learn a lot about how clothing designers think and develop their ideas. And Boy’s voice is so wonderfully unique. He has a humorously fragile ego – with all of his petty jealousies with his rivals are right at the forefront – but then he turns into a powerful voice of innocent victims as he describes the brutal and unforgiving ways that prisoners are treated by the government when fear provides them with the justifications to ignore the guidelines for humane treatment set forth by the Constitution and Geneva Convention. This book is so unique and so entertaining, I highly recommend it. ( )
  johnluiz | Aug 6, 2013 |
This is a bit out of my normal range of reading. This is not just because I have been reading so much YA literature, but also because I generally try to avoid anything political. However, when I got an offer to review this book, I took it, since who doesn't love a free book. Besides, it's always (note: this is hyperbole) good to push your boundaries and leave your comfort zone. I am so glad I did.

From the first, I loved this book. Boy has such a clear strong voice and a wonderful sense of humor, despite the darkness of many sections of the story. The bulk of the book is his confession to his interrogators, alternating between his current thoughts at the time and his memories of events in roughly chronological order. There are also humorous footnotes here and there that contain a fashion magazine writer's notes on what Boy got wrong in his statement.

From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant is like Ugly Betty meets Little Brother. What makes everything in this book so painful, and not just because you're laughing so hard at the dark humor, is that it is believable. I can totally imagine our government mistakenly ruining an innocent man's life and never owning up to their errors.

This is a most excellent read that I recommend highly to those who fear our country may be turning into a dystopia, who love black comedy, or adore high fashion. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant is a hip, satirical novel about a young Filipino designer of women's wear who comes to New York hoping to make it big and gets caught up in the post-9/11 paranoia and ends up being sent to "No Man's Land" as a suspected terrorist. Although it's a very clever book it made me reflective and a bit sad -- too much so to make me laugh. It's worth a read though. ( )
  RebaRelishesReading | Sep 29, 2012 |
Fast, funny, yet ultimately sobering read. ( )
  booksinthebelfrey | May 10, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Alex Gilvarry’s debut novel, From The Memoirs Of A Non-Enemy Combatant, trades in laughs with a wince of recognition in its biting look at one man’s trip into military detention.
 
"A smart, funny novel with political undertones that will also be particularly enjoyable for those with an interest in fashion."
added by Christa_Josh | editLibrary Journal, Shaunna E. Hunter (Nov 1, 2011)
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670023191, Hardcover)

Fashionistas and g-men clash in a mastermindful debut

Boyet Hernandez is a small man with a big American dream when he arrives in New York in 2002, fresh out of fashion school in the Philippines. But on the brink of fame and fortune, there comes instead a knock on the door in the middle of the night: the flamboyant ex-Catholic is swept to America’s most notorious prison, administered a Qur’an and locked away indefinitely to discover his link to a terrorist plot.

Now, in his six-by-eight-foot cell, Boy prepares for the tribunal of his life with this intimate confession. From borrowed mattress to converted toothpick factory loft, from custom suit commissions to high-end retail, we are immersed in a wonderland of soirees, runways, and hipster romance in twenty-first-century Gotham.  Boy is equally at home (if sometimes comically misinformed) invoking Dostoevsky and Diane von Furstenberg, the Marcos tyranny and Marc Jacobs, the vicissitudes of memory and the indignity of the walking sandwich board. But behind the scrim of his wit and chutzpah is his present nightmare of detainment in the sun-baked place he calls No Man’s Land. The more Boy’s faith in American justice is usurped by the Kafkaesque demands of his interrogator, the more ardently he clings to the chimerical hope and humanity of his adoptive country.

Funny, wise and beguiling, From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant gives us a tale so eerily evocative that it, and its hero, are poised to become an indelible part of the reader’s imagination and the literature of our strange times.

 

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:39 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Relocating to New York after finishing design school, Boyet Hernandez embarks on a promising career only to be wrongly accused of terrorist ties and locked up indefinitely in a tiny cell where he frantically prepares for a trial.

(summary from another edition)

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