Thursday, September 2, 2010
Review: The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian
I am really picky when it comes to accepting/requesting review books, so when I saw this book in the LibraryThing.com monthly giveaway section, I was intrigued and wanted it badly. I was insanely excited when I got the message saying I had won it! Yay!
Fast foward a few weeks from that, and I had the book in my hands. I devoured this book. Here is a little plot summary:
The main character, Emmett Con, is a 92 year old man who has a brain tumor. He starts having weird dreams, almost like memories, of his life as a child and young adult in Turkey. The only problem, Emmett lost his memory when sustained a head wound as a soldier for the Turkish Army during WWI. Fate, however, brought him to an English hospital, where he met a lovely nurse who eventually married him and took him home to the USA. Emmett has changed his old name (Ahmet) to an American one and has not practiced religion (he was a Muslim as a child) for many, many years. In fact, he is completely Americanized. So when he starts dreaming about being a Turkish gendarme leading Armenians out of Turkey, he is a bit perplexed. In his dreams, he and his fellow gendarmes act like monsters towards the Armenian refugees. Then he starts dreaming about a young Armenian girl who is among the refugees. The dreams unveil their love for one another, and then Emmett sets out the find the woman he loved and discover the truth about what happened so many years ago.
I really loved how Mustian's main character is a 92 year old man. I mean come on-how many books have you read with a narrator that old?? I also love how it's all told in the present tense, as if you are right there with Emmett as he's making all these discoveries. Emmett is a very intriguing narrator. He is still a strong older man, yet he is almost submissive in his old age, like so many elderly people I see everyday at my grandmother's retirement home. Their children never visit, but they learn to not really care. Their children make them move into nursing homes, and instead of protesting, they figure "what good will arguing do??", and then they go along with whatever their kids or doctors want. I think Mustian captures perfectly the mindset of a lot of older people. (Of course I'm not elderly myself, but I spend a lot of time with older people, so this is based solely on my observations.)
The events that Mustian (of Armenian descent himself) chooses to place this story around were another thing that I loved. The Armenian "genocide" (as many call it, though we never learn a thing about this horrific event in school) is a topic that has always fascinated me. As I just stated though, many schools (at leasts mine) don't teach about this event. I learned about it years ago through a song by a really awesome band who's lead singer's family is from Armenia. I don't know any other fiction books that use this very real event as a backdrop. Mustian did this all perfectly, and he also awakened in my history buff brain a hunger for more information on what happened in Turkey just before and during The Great War.
I highly recommend you read this book. It is extremely well written and different from so many other books I've read. The book is out TODAY!! So go get your copy!
Here is a little bit about the author, taken from his website at markmustian.com:
"Mark T. Mustian is an author, attorney and city commissioner. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with his wife, three children and dog. He also serves as the current chair of the Lutheran Readers Project, a nationwide effort to connect readers and writers associated with the Lutheran faith.
Mustian's fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Stand Magazine, The Green Hills Literary Lantern, Opium Magazine, Parting Gifts and other publications."
This book was released September 2nd, 2010. It is now in stores!
Title: The Gendarme
Author: Mark T. Mustian
Date of Publication: September 2nd, 2010
Number of Pages: 288
Source: Review copy from publisher (won from Librarything.com)