John Luiz's Reviews > From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant

From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant by Alex Gilvarry
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Jan 12, 2012

it was amazing
Read from January 08 to 12, 2012

Alex Gilvarry has written an absolutely brilliant and entertaining novel. The premise is so outlandish – he combines a humorous satirical look at the fashion industry with eye-opening insights into the way “detainees” are treated at Guantanamo Prison. It doesn’t seem possible that these two storylines could be joined together in an interesting and compelling way, but Gilvarry does it. The book is written as the confession of Boy Hernandez, a Filipino immigrant with dreams of becoming a world famous designer. For most of the book, we learn of Boy’s journey from a Manila fashion school, where he was the second best student to a rival who hit the big time fast, to the streets of New York, where he arrives nearly penniless but dreams of the day when he’ll be able to showcase his own designs during Fashion Week at Bryant Park. When he stumbles upon a neighbor who offers to bankroll his ambitions, he willfully keeps a blind eye to that man’s shady business dealings. When his new partner, Ahmed, turns out to be an arms dealer, Boy, gets caught up in the post 911 paranoia and ends up in Guantanamo and has to write this confession to try to prove his innocence. Gilvarry’s portrayal of a designer’s mind – the way he looks at clothes, the way he brainstorms new ideas, and all the connections he has to leverage to make inroads into the business are fascinatingly portrayed. You learn a lot about how clothing designers think and develop their ideas. And Boy’s voice is so wonderfully unique. He has a humorously fragile ego – with all of his petty jealousies with his rivals are right at the forefront – but then he turns into a powerful voice of innocent victims as he describes the brutal and unforgiving ways that prisoners are treated by the government when fear provides them with the justifications to ignore the guidelines for humane treatment set forth by the Constitution and Geneva Convention. This book is so unique and so entertaining, I highly recommend it.
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