Cover image for The daydreaming boy
The daydreaming boy
Marcom, Micheline Aharonian, 1968-
Publication Information:
New York : Riverhead Books, 2004.
Physical Description:
212 pages ; 21 cm
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Named one of the best books of 2001 by the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, and a Notable Book by The New York Times, Micheline Marcom's impressive debut novel, Three Apples Fell from Heaven, depicted the lives shattered by the Turkish government's brutal campaign that resulted in the deaths of more than a million Armenians. Marcom's second novel, The Daydreaming Boy, carries forward the story of the refugees from the twentieth century's first genocide, and it shows the growth of this young writer as a gifted and fearless stylist. Vaheacute; Tcheubjian is an upstanding, unremarkable member of the Armenian community of Beirut in the 1960s. He and his wife attend concerts, dinners, partake of the sophisticated, continental culture that marked pre-civil war Beirut as a cosmopolitan capital on the Mediterranean, the "Paris of the Middle East." But inside, he is in turmoil-wracked by memories of the escape from the campaign of genocide, the years spent in an Armenian orphanage, the brutalities of his fellow orphans, ferocious and desperate and unloved. Vaheacute; seeks refuge in an outrageous and graphic fantasy life that flirts dangerously with emotional catastrophe, just as the Beirut he has come to adopt as his home edges toward destruction.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Marcom's much acclaimed debut novel, Three Apples Fell from Heaven (2001), was praised for both its beautiful prose and the casual candor with which it depicted the horrors of the 1915-17 Armenian genocide. Her follow-up, dealing with the persistent emotional aftermath of the genocide, likewise deserves praise for its fluid prose and haunting imagery, which now simultaneously articulate painfully clear memory and blurred, often brutal fantasy. Vahe Tcheubjian, the novel's protagonist, was orphaned in the genocide and rose from a childhood without love or touching to the life of a bourgeois businessman in Beirut. But survival and success haven't brought peace for Vahe, and turbulent fantasy constantly shadows him as he sits in cosmopolitan sidewalk cafes and lays smoking on the cold ceramic tile floor of his kitchen. Visits to local zoological gardens to smoke cigarettes withumba the monkey lead to horrid visions of mercy killing; longing for his unknown mother's body melds with illicit lust for his neighbor's too-young servant girl, and love is there, somewhere. And Beirut itself likewise lopes toward chaos. Evocative, unsettling, beautiful. --Brendan Driscoll Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

A middle-aged survivor of Turkey's Armenian massacres living in Beirut in the 1960s contemplates his brutal past and loses himself in a series of adulterous trysts that bring him slowly to a realization of the moral compromises he has made. Early on in this elegant, penetrating novel, middle-aged Vah? asks, "How did I become this sort of man?" Marcom (author of the well-received Three Apples Fell from Heaven) supplies an answer with steely delicacy, as Vah? cycles through different memories: of the torments he both endured and visited upon weaker fellow orphans in an Armenian orphanage; of his long-gone family and his pain at his separation from them; of his infatuation with his maid, which turned his wife against him and angers her even as he lays this narrative out like a confession. The haunted, desperate tone reaches fever pitch in Vah?'s description of his spiritual relationship with a strangely human-looking ape in the local zoo, as the narrator's imaginings of the beast's emotions are played out upon its contorted features. It is at times like this that Marcom shows her hand a bit too obviously. Yet her writing is mellifluous, so poetically inflected at times as to lull the reader into a trance. The shadow of impending violence troubles the calm, but it is the grim reality of what has already happened that is most harrowing the evil that Vah? must confront each day, as much as he might try to make himself more comfortable in the world. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Continuing the story of the Turkish genocide of Armenians begun in the award-winning Three Apples Fell from the Tree. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.