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The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian
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The Gendarme (2010)

by Mark T. Mustian

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3383648,341 (3.97)60
  1. 00
    The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat (LCBrooks)
    LCBrooks: Both Dandicat and Mustian do a great job of moving between the past and present while keeping the reader engaged in the story.
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This is part of my Musa Dagh research. It was a good book, though I skipped over large chunks of it. It was told in flashbacks, and I was more interested in the flashbacks. The premise was to tell the story of the Armenian deportations from the POV of a young Turkish officer. However, this story, as I noted, was told through a series of flashbacks. The end of the book and the final revelation were a bit implausible. It was still interesting enough and the author paid attention to detail, created some memorable scenes and interesting characters. I would have enjoyed a linear plot better. ( )
  MsKathleen | Jan 29, 2018 |
The Armenian Deportations of 1915 as presented by "the other side", a young Turkish man, who is a gendarme, or paramilitary policeman, guarding a convoy of Armenians headed to Aleppo, Syria. The story flashes from the past to the present--back and forth: After this stint, Ahmet Khan, the protagonist, now in the Turkish army, is wounded, mistaken by the British for one of theirs, taken to a hospital and meets and marries Carol, an American nurse, taking an Anglicized version of his old name, Emmett Conn. She brings him to the States where he has a fulfilling career as plumber then builder. After a prolonged illness and his caring for her, Carol dies. Emmett has a brain tumor and only remembers his past life in flashes. He remembers meeting an Armenian girl, not much younger than he and falls in love, although he does his share of cruel things on the brutal trek. Now 92 years of age, he searches for his past as a young man in Turkey; he doesn't remember much before the British hospital. How much is true; how much are dreams or visions through seizures? He searches for Araxie, whom the dreams have brought to life again for him.

This beautifully-written novel was depressing but a page-turner. The ending seemed a little too pat. And I disliked his daughters. Some of the present-day incidents seemed a bit implausible, especially his drive to New York. I did wonder about a 17-year old as leader of a group of gendarmes; I thought that was very young for a position of responsibility.

Highly recommended. I felt it showed the endurance of love amidst obstacles. ( )
  janerawoof | Sep 4, 2015 |
Haunting, this one will stay with me for awhile. Full review to come later. ( )
  ChewDigest | Sep 12, 2014 |
Haunting, this one will stay with me for awhile. Full review to come later. ( )
  ChewDigest | Sep 12, 2014 |
I decided to read this book due to the subject matter. As a someone who grew up in Turkey and was taught only "official history" in school and as someone who wants to read and learn about "the other," I think it's hard to find books that are not propaganda one way or another. I think Mustian does a good job in imagining what a Turkish gendarme (jandarma, in Turkish) would feel, then and now. The "lost memory" element was not extremely necessary, in my opinion, and may have made some people feel like it was too contrived. As the Armenians are known for passing down the stories of the horrible things that were done to them during the genocide, the Turks have spent almost a century denying and forgetting them.
In terms of language and writing style and even story, I found the modern day story of the ailing 92-year-old now-American immigrant Emmett Conn far more interesting and well-written than Ahmet's miserable life in 1915. Emmett's relationship to his daughter and grandson, his memories of his recently deceased, ailing wife, his struggles as an immigrant, his life in a institution, his relationship with the other patients... All of this was written very well, with stark images that were crisp and gripping. Emmett's memories of his shameful past were...more sentimental? Perhaps it is this shift in sentimentality that made me wish for more Emmett and less Ahmet? Perhaps also it is hard to write about a love story in the middle of such a horrendous situation without seeming a bit sentimental.
( )
  bluepigeon | Dec 27, 2013 |
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Epigraph
To the Roaring Wind.
What syllable are you seeking,
Vocalissimus,
In the distances of sleep?
Speak it.

-Wallace Stevens, 1917
Dedication
For Bern
First words
I awake in a whispering ambulance.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399156348, Hardcover)

A haunting, deeply moving novel-an old man comes face-to-face with his past and sets out to find the love of his life and beg her forgiveness.

To those around him, Emmet Conn is a ninety-two-year-old man on the verge of senility. But what becomes frighteningly clear to Emmet is that the sudden, realistic dreams he is having are memories of events he, and many others, have denied or purposely forgotten. The Gendarme is a unique love story that explores the power of memory-and the ability of people, individually and collectively, to forget. Depicting how love can transcend nationalities and politics, how racism creates divisions where none truly exist, and how the human spirit fights to survive even in the face of hopelessness, this is a transcendent novel.

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(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:07 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Seen by those around him as a virtually senile nonagenarian, Emmet Conn is haunted by vivid memories of a past he and others deliberately worked to forget, a situation that compels him to seek out the love of his life to beg her forgiveness.

» see all 4 descriptions

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