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The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian

The Gendarme (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Mark T. Mustian

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2953538,041 (3.99)57
Title:The Gendarme
Authors:Mark T. Mustian
Info:Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (2010), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, General Fiction
Tags:Fiction, Armenian Massacre, mrstreme; given away

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The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian (2010)

  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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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 |
The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian presents an unusual side of the Armenian genocide by the Turks in 1915. There are two parts to the genocide, one is a wholesale killing of Armenian men and the second is a march through the Syrian Desert to Aleppo. This book covers the second part. It is unusual because it told through the new found memories of a Turkish Gendarme. Usually stories like this are told by survivors, fictional of non-fictional.

Emmett Conn aka Ahmet Kahn is 92 years old and has a malignant glioma, a type of brain tumor. He really wants to left alone to die but consents to treatment because of his daughter’s pleas. As the treatment goes on he recovers memories of his life prior to being retired in Wadesboro, Georgia. At first he doesn’t recognize his native language of Turkish. He had learned English in the U.S. and never wanted his children to speak it. Up to now, he could not remember anything of his time in the army or shortly afterwards. The book shifts back and forth from the past to the present skillfully.

Ahmet in his dreams meets Araxie, one of the Armenians being marched out of Turkey into Syria. She has one brown eye and one blue eye and he is captivated by her, at first because of her eyes and later because of her demeanor and behavior. Ahmet’s relationship with Araxie was one of constant change and learning from her.

Ahmet did commit atrocities during the march and the march more than decimated the group. Many were sick, killed or raped. There at first 2,000 Armenians in the group they were left and the numbers dwindled to only 65.

The story flows easily and there is a side story of his first wife and his children. When reading the book, I felt that I wanted to get away from his children. I didn’t feel comfortable with them. I couldn’t figure out my feeling towards his wife, Carol. The ending of the book amazed me.

I highly recommend this book to all who want to learn more about the Armenian Genocide in terms of emotions and memories, regrets, forgiveness and sorrow. ( )
1 vote Carolee888 | Jun 16, 2013 |
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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)

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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.

(summary from another edition)

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