Sunday, October 17, 2010
Book Review: The Gendarme, by Mark T. Mustian
Emmet Conn, an old man in his 90's, starts having dreams (or are they memories?) of events that he has no conscious recollection of. They are of a time during the First World War, specifically, the Armenian genocide. (The Turks marched hundreds of thousands of Armenians out of the country, most of them suffering and dying in horrible ways). Emmet Conn, who was a Turk, had suffered a head injury in the First World War that had made his time before the injury a patchwork of memory. He has embraced his new life in America for the best part of the century.
But, as his health problems worsen, the result of a brain tumor, his dreams get more and more vivid and intense. The story flips between his life now and the events that unfold in his dream. I don't really want to say much more than that because part of the fun is in the unraveling of the simultaneous stories of past and present. However, each story is gripping.
Going back and forth between dream/memory, and the present seems to be a common writing strategy these days. The last book I reviewed, Three Day Road, also used a similar technique. It may not be the most original strategy. But, I have to say, it works! Aside from a minor problem the book has with time and chronology - namely that a lot seems to happen in very short periods of time - it's a great read. Recommended.