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Per non dimenticareCi sono libri che sembra siano loro a sceglierci Mi capitato di recente con questo romanzo che, mentre mi aggiravo tra gli scaffali della biblioteca alla ricerca di nuove letture, mi guardava attraverso gli occhi di una ragazza il cui volto stato enigmaticamente diviso tra la prima e la quarta di copertina Incuriosita, come rispondendo a quello sguardo, ho allora afferrato il volume dal ripiano sotto l etichetta letteratura americana titolo accattivante, nome dell autore sconosciuto Leggendo poi la sinossi sul risvolto, mi sono state sufficienti poche parole prima guerra mondiale, gendarme turco, colonne di deportati per comprendere quale fosse l argomento, subito confermato dalla nota biografica dello scrittore che sottolinea le sue origini armene.Al genocidio del popolo armeno mi interessai in modo particolare all epoca in cui mi ero imbattuta ne La masseria delle allodole di Antonia Arslan, libro che ricordo ancora con un senso di grande dolore Penso che ogni singola opera, sia pure di narrativa, che tocchi tale questione sia molto importante poich contribuisce ad alimentare la memoria, a far s che questa schifosa pagina della storia, non certo meno grave di quella della successiva Shoah, non cada irrimediabilmente nell oblio, come preferirebbe la Turchia per esperienza diretta, so bene che parlare con un turco del genocidio armeno pressoch impossibile Ecco, l originalit di questo romanzo consiste nel fatto di affrontare l argomento facendo addossare un penoso mea culpa alla figura di una delle guardie che scortavano i deportati armeni fuori dal paese tra abusi e sofferenze di ogni tipo Emmett Conn, cittadino americano, ha pi di novant anni, ma la sua vita iniziata intorno ai venti fino ad allora si chiamava Ahmet Kahn ed era un gendarme dell esercito ottomano Ferito in battaglia durante la guerra, si era risvegliato privo di memoria in un ospedale inglese sotto le cure di una infermiera americana, la quale, sposandolo, lo port con s negli Stati Uniti dove lui pot cominciare una nuova vita, sebbene non avesse pi ricordi di quella precedente Ma il passato destinato a riemergere proprio quando l uomo ormai molto vecchio e malato, riportando a galla il pentimento per ci che aveva commesso e l a nei confronti di una giovane armena, Araxie, a cui, nonostante tutto, aveva cercato di salvare la vita.Una storia avvincente per tre quarti del libro mi sono piaciuti, in particolare, i capitoli che rievocano il periodo trascorso ad Aleppo ho trovato invece l ultima parte un po troppo frettolosa e con un finale che non mi ha convinta del tutto, ecco perch non attribuisco all opera quattro stelle piene Comunque, nel complesso, la valutazione positiva, anche perch il libro, come racconta lo stesso autore nella sua nota conclusiva, stato scritto a seguito di uno scrupoloso lavoro di documentazione, compreso un viaggio fra Turchia e Siria lungo i tristi percorsi di morte di oltre un secolo fa Alla fine, immancabilmente, mi sovvengono sempre queste parole Voi che vivete sicuri nelle vostre tiepide case, voi che trovate tornando a sera il cibo caldo e visi amici considerate se questo un uomo Meditate che questo stato Vi comando queste parole Scolpitele nel vostro cuore Ripetetele ai vostri figli Primo Levi 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.
As a 2nd generation Diasporan Armenian, I typically dread reliving stories about the Armenian Genocide that took place around 1915 in Western Turkey Growing up, I heard enough stories from elderly relatives who survived, many of whom lost wives, husbands, children, parents, and friends But my sister s avid recommendation of this book prompted me to try it Mark Mustain uses an ingenious plot device a brain tumor that spurs recollections from many decades before The protagonist would just as soon keep the memories buried until bits and pieces start coming together to provide a compelling reason for him to follow up in the present day The characters are well drawn and the story moves along quickly The Gendarme in the title reveals enough moral complexity to elicit a measure of empathy from this reader despite his worst actions He is, above all, a human being with a conscience, as we would hope all people are even those who perpetrate horrors on others After evil has occurred the clock cannot be turned back The most we can hope for is that the perpetrators come to understand the effects of their actions and seek whatever resolution they can if not forgiveness, at least acknowledgment. I found The Gendarme equal parts interesting and disturbing I knew nothing about the Armenian genocide, and although I was glad to be enlightened to those events, it was definitely a tough read But, this book left such a lasting impression that I m glad I kept enduring.Emmett Conn fought in WWI and was injured Through some sort of twist of fate, he ends up recovering and moving to the United States, and he gets married and has children a normal, unremarkable life by many However, in his old age, as he s becoming ill, he is beset by strange dreams where he s remembering a past life At first, he can t understand how the cruel gendarme from his dream, ushering suffering Armenians out of Turkey, could be him But the dreams begin to paint a picture that he knows must be true And at the center of these memories lies a beautiful woman.I thought this was a creative plot line, and although not a page turner, it kept my interest as I was shifted back and forth between present and past With the amnesia, we were able to get inside a war criminal s head without the inherent evil and hate This fact leaves the reader with a difficult conundrum what to do with Emmett Do we hate him, or can we forgive him By all accounts, Emmett led an ordinary life after his accident, even a benevolent one, considering that he faithfully took care of his ailing wife for so long But, after he comes to know of his past, and us too, it s hard to look at him in the same way And yet, he s still the same person That dichotomy is what makes him such an intriguing character I wonder that the author is somehow illustrating that piece of human nature that we all have this part of our personalities there, ready to be activatedor deactivated, as with Emmett Are we all of us capable of such heinous crimes No matter what good a person does in the world, could that same person be capable of the same level of action on the opposite, the evil, side of the spectrum And then there s Araxie, this arrestingly beautiful Armenian woman Emmett somehow comes to believe he must protect her at all costs And his dreams do not put his mind at rest about what s happened to her What should he do with this information now, that he s in his 90s What could he hope to do for her now How could he go his whole life long, practically, as one person, to find out that he s someone else entirely Someone who probably should have spent his life in prison He is decent enough to know that He hasn t abandoned all the values and morals that govern human decency just because he once had none And yet there are sparks in his character, in his sordid past, that make you stop and wonder where in fact he went wrong What along his path led him to be vicious, when he is capable of compassion, at least in Araxie s case Perhaps compassion could only be compelled from him in the face of a strong and beautiful woman Although if he was to be as he should have been, as a gendarme I mean, a pretty face should have only made him thecruel It is his love for Araxie that becomes his saving grace It redeems him as a character When normally I would find him repulsive, in fact it is hard not to do so, I find his determination to save one woman very courageous.By the book s description, I was expecting the main part of the text to be somewhat of a travelogue For Emment Ahmet to find out his true identity and make for Turkey in search of Araxie To spend weeks and months there, leaving no stone unturned, and then learn of himself and his past as he went from place to place But, I have to say that I find Mustian s creation muchrealistic and meaningful What Emmett spent his whole life looking for, his past, is both terrible and beautiful It s a perfect puzzle, one which he will never be able to untangle One he can only vaguely believe One he will always regret Perhaps that is the reason his dreams make him act crazy.I have to say, this book took dedication to finish It s none of it easy to read I enjoyed the pace, although I found some parts starting to lag Overall, I found it a very thoughtful read, and I m sure I ll be thinking about it for some time still.www.makniks.blogspot.com I can remember when this book first came out and all the hype about it..to me, it seemed like an over rated book that had hit gold with feel good reviews My immediate response to reading it was Meh it seems overhyped.Skip forward six months and it was announced that this was the choice for the live book club I am a part of I was less than thrilled I WAS SO WRONG, IT ISN T EVEN FUNNY This book is so muchthan what I thought it was going to be Normally, in reading, I am one to make judgements re the characters situations very quickly What I love most about this book is that I am ambivelent re the main character..part of me thinks he is disgusting excuse of a human being as he is coming to the end of his life and reflecting on things done in the past and part of me feels empathy for him I know for me that is a good book I read so quickly, that one of the things I periodically miss is being sucked into the story I didn t have the chance to escape that with this book The one piece of advice I can give the reader of this review is that if you choose to read this book, either do it in one sitting or have no other books going at the same time As one who normally has numerous books going at one time, this is not a book which you can do this with. I so wish this rating system was different, but I loved this book and learned so much from it Mainly, I was deeply moved by Emmett Conn s story, told through his dreams that took place 70 yrs earlier Emmett is now 92 yrs old and ready to die, but his dreams return him to a time during W.W.I when his Turkish Gov commits genocide against millions of Armenians His true love, Araxie, was a deportee then, the plight of these people is vividly described The extermination of Jews was not the only unbelievebly cruel injustice that occurred Thank you, Mark Mustian, for a job well done Why, after 70 yrs., is Emmett remembering things he had forgotten for so long That s a good question, best answered by any survivor of cruelties so indescribable, or the perpetrators of that violence I would want to forget, too Emmett s unflinching will to reconnect with his true love is a beautiful story of love and committment, and strength. The Gendarme Flower Why do you pick up a book What makes that book alluring as opposed to the one next to it Everyone has their sucker points I m a sucker for maps, unique type styles, fabrics, patterns, shoes with no feet in them But never, never ever feet with no shoes on them , dishes, tea kettles and tea pots, partially revealed figures and the just plain pretty Since I buy lots of books there must be an awful lot of covers that peak my interest Of course you may judge a book worthy of picking up by it s cover but you don t always buy it I did touch and then buy The Gendarme by first time author Mark Mustian I had not heard anything about this novel prior to seeing it displayed in an independent bookstore but the cover is so striking shades of the National Geographic Afghan girl and so simple that I was compelled to grab it and have a look If my local chain store was stocking this title at all it was not in one of the many piles of books nor was it faced out in the new fiction section so it did not get my attention.The gendarme is Emmett Conn Emmett is a World War I vet near the end of his life Although he s suffered from memory problems since being injured during the war that prevent him from remembering much of that experience and his life before it, the war has defined his life Now strange dreams that may or may not be hidden memories from that time are intruding on his life In these dreams his status as a soldier is confused He is a gendarme escorting Armenians out of Turkey He is Ahmet Kahn and he is desperately in love with a young refugee named Araxie In Emmett s real life his relationships with his grown daughter and grandson are typically complicated and in need of repair To heal, understand and forgive himself for what may have been his participation in the Armenian Genocide, Emmett must extract the truth of his life from within these illusive and disturbing memories and dreams This was an excellent novel The different periods were brought off beautifully It was appealing to my love of historical fiction and the contemporary setting was successful as well and so did not suffer by comparison This is not a history of the genocide but the elements of it that are incorporated into the plot are written with enough authority to capture the level of horrors of that experience Mustian also writes movingly and believably about Emmett s two lives The book is told in the first person so our travels with Emmett could very easily have become a tiresome litany of I, I, I and that does not happen Emmett stays a provocative character throughout the book Not every character is as fully realized as Emmett and Araxie are but the strength of your interest in the two of them makes up for that lack Good job Mark Mustian Congrats to the wily cover designer of The Gendarme You tempted me with your mad skills and it paid off big And By the way, how much do you love the word gendarme anyway Don t you want to keep saying it Gendarme Great title choice That makes The Gendarme a triple threat terrific novel, gorgeous cover and wonderful title P.S That cover art reminded me of another recent triple threat novel, The Heretic s Daughter Look here my friend They are practically twins. First of all, thank you, Goodreads First Reads, for the opportunity to preview this book With the one hundredth anniversary of the Armenian deportations only a few years away, author Mark Mustian has set himself a daunting task to follow his character s footsteps and to serve as a gendarme, a guide in the wilderness For the most part, he succeeds admirably.As Mr Mustian writes in the epilogue, Genocide perhaps represents the ugliest of human deeds, the mass killing of often defenseless fellow beings Saying it didn t happen is a mere recipe for recurrence The focus is on one gendarme a 92 year old Turkish man named Ahmet Kahn on the verge of senility with a non operable brain tumor who must examine memories of events that he has previously denied or purposely forgotten Many years ago in World War I he was a gendarme, charged with escorting Armenians across the border from Turkey to Syria Many died from the grueling march and the lack of proper food and shelter and medicine.Women, in particular, had a tough time of it they were frequently used as the playthings of the Turkish men who have grown hard and bored and demand women to do their physical bidding before killing them One woman captures Ahmet s attention her name is Araxie and her eyes are her exotica, one nearly turquoise, one greenish brown Ahmet falls head over heals for her, sheltering her from the excesses of the trek that become, for all intensive purposes, a true genocide Araxie demands of him, Why not just shoot us all now What is it about us you hate so And he must answer impotently, I am only a small piece of the puzzle I have a job to do I did not ask for it, nor have I questioned its rationale As in books from the past Sadie Jones Small Wars, for example, or thefamous A Separate Peace Ahmet must eventually realize that his answer is non satisfactory and that his love for Araxie outweighs the senseless slaughter.The novel is divided into two portions the present day, where Emmett Conn suffers through mental disorientation, hospital confinement and the coldness of his grown daughter, and the past, where Ahmet Kahn same person struggles to survive amidst swollen corpses, monstrous murders, and clannishness, duplicity, and trickery As the memories swell in intensity, the reader must ask, How much of his memory is true and how much is a product of extreme guilt What happened and what didn t There are no clear answers But as Mr Mustian writes, The point of the story seemed to be that to think is to forget, to filter from the mind the unnecessary, I have told myself this, repeated it to myself I have called it our gift from God This headstrong, heedless survival At the end of the day, love does survive and so do the never relenting memories Mr Mustain states in his epilogue, Decades on, even centuries on, our shared history remains vital (DOWNLOAD EPUB) õ The Gendarme Ì What Would You Do If The Love Of Your Life, And All Your Memories, Were Lost Only To Reappear, But With Such Shocking Revelations That You Wish You Had Never Remembered Emmett Conn Is An Old Man, Near The End Of His Life A World War I Veteran, He S Been Affected By Memory Loss Since Being Injured During The War To Those Around Him, He S Simply A Confused Man, Fading In And Out Of Senility But What They Don T Know Is That Emmett Has Been Beset By Memories, Of Events He And Others Have Denied Or Purposely Forgotten In Emmett S Dreams He S A Gendarme, Escorting Armenians From Turkey A Young Woman Among Them, Araxie, Captivates And Enthralls Him But Then The Trek Ends, The War Separates Them He Is Injured Seven Decades Later, As His Grasp On The Boundaries Between Past And Present Begins To Break Down, Emmett Sets Out On A Final Journey, To Find Araxie And Beg Her Forgiveness Mark Mustian Has Written A Remarkable Novel About The Power Of Memory And The Ability Of People, Individually And Collectively, To Forget Depicting How Love Can Transcend Nationalities, Politics, And Religion, How Racism Creates Divisions Where None Truly Exist, And How The Human Spirit Fights To Survive Even In The Face Of Hopelessness, The Gendarme Is A Transcendent Novel The haunting cover art, portraying a lovely young girl with two different colored eyes, is what first attracted me to this debut novel, The Gendarme Trust me, once you finish this story it will stay with you for days to come.In 1990, Emmett Conn is a 92 year old Turkish American man, who is recovering from surgery for a brain tumor In Georgia, to his family and friends he seems confused or senile However, what has happened to Emmett is that after his surgery he is experiencing vivid dreams of World War I events he had previously or purposely forgotten Memories that were lost, perhaps due to a war injury, have now returned some 70 years later.The novel goes back and forth in time to when Emmett was a Turkish Gendarme who brought Armenians from Turkey in a death march to Syria The original two thousand deportees have dwindled now to three hundred, many of these suffering from dysentery A number of the guards are gone, too, leaving only three gendarmes, including myself to prod our group on its way Our progress has been slower than before, maybe six or seven miles per day At this pace it will take four or five days to reach our destination Food is scarce, water even scarcer The dead and dying increase daily At the current rate of loss, only fifty or so of the deportees might actually make it to Aleppo Araxie is a lovely Armenian girl that Emmett becomes obsessed with and tries to protect In his dreams he is reunited with his captive who he thought of as the love of his life He is desperate to find her, and to beg her forgiveness for his sins of the past.MY THOUGHTS Even though this story is a work of fiction, I feel like I was given a painful lesson in history Sadly, Armenian Genocide is a subject that I knew nothing about The story is sad and haunting and tough to read in parts, but it is so well done that most readers will find themselves effortless and eagerly finishing the novel quicker than anticipated It is clearly a story that demonstrates the evil that good people are capable of The ending is not what I anticipated, but in some ways that was a good thing I think this story would make an excellent movie.RECOMMENDED 4.5 5 stars