Saturday, April 10, 2010

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

"The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity."
Walt Whitman

Welcome Reader. My intention is to have this blog become a place where I can share my thoughts, feelings and such about books, and pass them on to you. I will talk about books I’ve just happened on, ones I cherish, or ones I’ve heard about and just want to get to know.

The focus will be on GLBT authors and books. I’ll recommend works by and about gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and anyone else out there who calls us community.

I spent my career among books; reading them, reviewing them, and recommending them to others. I am always searching for the "Good Read". Will my good read be yours? I hope so. I know tastes differ, but the bottom line for me is the book itself and ultimately how good it is, how well it is written, how inventive, how illuminating, and finally, how satisfying. In short, is it worth my time? Is it worth yours? Not a tall order methinks. The good news is, they’re out there, just waiting to be found, and that's where I'll come in.

For my first offering, I decided to entice you with a stunning little gem with a curious title: Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman (Picador, 2007).

In my not so humble opinion, this book is undoubtedly one of the finest books I've ever encountered. From the first sentence it had me. I often had to stop and take a breath as I devoured this magnificent prose. Ok, I’ve been called breathy before, but I paused so often while reading because this book displays a style of writing that I have rarely encountered elsewhere.

Now before I go on, I need to make a confession. I am, among other things, a self proclaimed Proustian. Not a bad thing, but people do think me a bit peculiar because of it. Simply put, Marcel Proust often stands apart in the world of literature, and has set a literary standard many authors aspire to. So, what does that have to do with this book, you ask?

Call Me By Your Name possesses a very Proustian sensibility and style. I thought only Proust could take a given moment in time and literally describe every thing that was going on simultaneously and how it affected the senses. But I was wrong.

Aciman, obviously a lover of Proust, manages to evoke the same sensibility, and here’s the neat part, make it his own. Imagine that! To call it delicious is, in my thinking, an understatement, but that is what it is, simply scrumptious. And, it is so much so that your taste buds will never tire of the verbal delicacies spread out before you.

Call Me By Your Name is a love story, and it weaves a tale of a young man’s “infatuation” with someone older. The boy’s father invites young academics to his summer home in Italy every summer to revise their manuscripts before publication. They are carefully selected, and, although it happens yearly, this time it turns into something totally different, or so it seems.

When Elio, our young narrator, meets Oliver for the first time, you know something special is going to take place. Oliver appears to be aloof. This drives Elio crazy. The more distant he becomes, the hungrier Elio becomes.( Are you getting the picture?) Clearly this is a tale of obsession, and what unfolds is a story that gets more and more exciting as you read. You will desire the possibility of their finally connecting ,so much so, that you can hardly stand it anymore. Well, that’s what happened to me. Will it happen? How will it happen? And, ultimately, what does it mean?  (See, I told you it is going to be good!)  If this book doesn’t make you swoon, well, what can I say?

Here’s an example of the writing: “The thud my heart gave when I saw him unannounced both terrified and thrilled me. I was afraid when he showed up, afraid when he failed to, afraid when he looked at me, more frightened yet when he didn’t. The agony wore me out” No, my dears, this is not Jackie Collins, but its super hot! (Yowie!)

One of the things Aciman has, is the ability to make his story transcend the obvious. For, even though it is character specific, it becomes universal. We feel, we relate, we become. What more could you ask for?

So, dear reader, now that I’ve wet your mental whistles, I hope you get yourself a copy and find out for yourself what a tasty morsel I’ve invited you to savor.

I can’t wait to hear you share. Until next time then, I remain just another gay guy with a book in hand. Happy reading.

1 comment:

  1. Nice job. Good luck in the new venture. Look forward to more