Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday Books: Gendarme

The Gendarme by Mark Mustian

This is historical fiction, a story of the Armenian Genocide which took place in the 19-teens. I knew very little about it; I am glad to have now learned a little.

The title character, the gendarme, is a para-military policeman whose job it is to guide a group of Armenians being forcibly removed from Turkey and marched to Syria. Along the way he is smitten by a young woman who is among the evacuees. His character is complex. Even though he does some horrible things, one finds oneself liking him. The duality of our nature, exhibiting both good and bad, is excellently portrayed in this book.

The gendarme's memory had been damaged by a war wound to the head, so he has never re-examined anything from his past war years. When the book begins, he is a 92 year old man living in America, experiencing upsetting dreams. At first he does not know if the dreams are true memories or if they even depict his own life.

The book goes between his life at age 92 and his dreams of the past. The writing is just beautiful, odd to say about a disturbing topic and unhappy story. The horrible parts were not gruesome, and the ever-present complexity of human beings makes the reader like most of the characters through their good and their bad times.

An excellent read, fascinating and very well-written.

reading while at war

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