Saturday, January 14, 2012

From The Memoirs Of A Non-Enemy Combatant by Alex Gilvarry

Prepare to be charmed.  From the moment, Boyet Hernandez hits New York City from his native Philippines in 2002, his exuberance and talent starts to propel him to the top of the fashion world.  He comes with nothing but determination to make it in the only world he cares about.  Several years later, he has his own line (B)oy, magazine spreads and an American girlfriend.  He has it all, or so it seems, until the knock comes in the middle of the night and he is hustled off to a military prison.  His crime?  Fashion terrorist.

It seems that his main financial backer, a Canadian Muslim who believed in him and invested the money to get Boy his start, has been arrested as a smuggler with terrorist ties, and a stash of enough fertilizer to make many bombs.  There is the Indian gangster who tries to blackmail Boy--pay up or he will turn Boy in as a known associate of the smuggler.  His American girlfriend turns their love affair into an off-Broadway play about falling in love with a terrorist.  Even his publicist is a mark against him.  An Irishman whose family changed their name from McLaden to Laden to escape the prejudice against the Irish a century ago, Ben Laden has come full circle and this gay Irish man has lost most of his customers who don't want to be associated with someone whose name sounds so much like Bin Laden.

A travesty of justice, no doubt.  Boy is left in a prison cell under isolation, his only human contact guards and interrogators.  But then, but then.  Under the torrent of Boy's words, his exuberant explanation for everything, a worm of doubt starts to build in the reader's minds.  Is he as innocent as it seems, or is there a kernel of truth to be uncovered?

Alex Gilvarry has created a memorable character in Boy.  His exploration of the immigrant mind and the New York fashion scene is fascinating.  Readers will walk away from the experience of reading From The Memoirs Of A Non-Enemy Combatant with many questions about what is correct when a country is dealing with terrorism and to what lengths we are willing to go to protect ourselves.  This book is recommended for readers interested in fresh writing, great characters and writing that makes them question their positions.

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