Book Review: Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

Call Me By Your NameAbout the Book

The story of a sudden and powerful romance that blooms between seventeen-year-old Elio and his father’s house guest Oliver during a restless summer on the Italian Riviera.

It tells how unrelenting currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire threaten to overwhelm the lovers who at first feign indifference to the charge between them.

Format: eBook, paperback (248 pp.) Publisher: Atlantic Books
Published:  1st April 2009                    Genre: Fiction

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My Review

Call Me By Your Name forms part of my From Page to Screen reading project. I shall be publishing my comparison of the book and the film in due course.  In the meantime, you can read Andre Aciman’s own thoughts about the process of adaptation here.

The book is a study of sexual exploration and of the doubts and uncertainties that characterize the early stages of a relationship. Not knowing what to say, saying the wrong thing, saying nothing… Trying to interpret another’s feelings from gestures, glances or small actions… Moving from despair to elation in response to any small sign of returned affection… Struggling with the complexity of your own feelings just as much as those of the other party. All these sensations the author describes in intricate detail as the reader wonders and agonizes along with Elio.

Elio and his family seem to live a privileged and rarified existence, rather remote from the local community. Days are spent swimming, playing tennis or sunbathing.  Mealtime conversations encompass history, philosophy, music, books. Although set on the Italian Riviera, I only really got a sense of the atmosphere of Italy when the action moves to Rome later in the book. That section was lively and playful and I really felt Elio’s and Oliver’s joy in each other’s company and in that vibrant city.

Call Me By Your Name is beautifully written and conjures up all the emotional turmoil of young love and awakening sexuality. For me, in the end though, there was just a little too much introspection and adolescent angst. However, I’m very much looking forward to seeing the award-winning film adaptation which I think may address some of the shortcomings I found in the book.

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In three words: Emotional, intimate, introspective

Try something similar…Mussolini’s Island by Sarah Day (click here to read my review)

Andre AcimanAbout the Author

André Aciman was born in Alexandria, Egypt and is an American memoirist, essayist, novelist, and scholar of seventeenth-century literature. He has also written many essays and reviews on Marcel Proust. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Condé Nast Traveler as well as in many volumes of The Best American Essays. Aciman received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University, has taught at Princeton and Bard and is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at The CUNY Graduate Center. He is currently chair of the Ph. D. Program in Comparative Literature and founder and director of The Writers’ Institute at the Graduate Center.

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