The Gendarme by Mark Mustian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
*I received this book through Library Thing Early Reviewers*
Emmett Conn/Ahmet Khan, in the last days of his life, is haunted by dreams of a horrible time in his past...his time spent as a gendarme, herding Armenians from Turkey to Syria (the ARMENIAN GENOCIDE 1915-1923).During this time he met a young woman with eyes of two different colors....named Araxie...whose memory haunts him still. the fact that he loved her and abandoned her.
At the end of his life, Emmett/Ahmet, a naturalized US citizen, has time to reflect on his past, since he is dying of a brain tumor. Having suffered memory loss, after surviving the battle of Gallipoli and the subsequent airlift to England (having been mis-identified as a British soldier), he knows well the vagaries of memory/reminiscence. How much of what he "recalls" is real? How much is the residue of recorded history? How much is "merely" guilt? this is where the story goes deep. Emmett's dreams are fraught with horror and violence...and regret. He sets himself the "task" of confronting them....and damn the consequences.
I don't often read "war novels" and am not fond of the stories that tout the "triumph of the human spirit". Too often those books spiral into screeds of accusation and whining...writ Large. This book, on the other hand, is writ small...in scope. Small enough to fit into a dying man's heart and brain....into a man trying to make sense of old horrors, loves, and regrets. The ending is a "stunner" and I won't give it away. Suffice to say, Ahmet dies with a modicum of peace.
I recommend this lovely heartbreak of a book to anyone who likes prose gracefully written...who prefers history confined to the heart rather than the Headlines
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