Call Me By Your Name
by André Aciman
Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them. What grows from the depths of their spirits is a romance of scarcely six weeks’ duration and an experience that marks them for a lifetime. For what the two discover on the Riviera and during a sultry evening in Rome is the one thing both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy.
I think I have already rambled on and on about this book before. It was worth it.
When I had heard of this book, the film had already started to make its rounds through the awards. Yes, that’s how much in the dark I was about this book. I am not even sure I would have known about it had it not been for the film which makes me sad but it’s the truth. Can’t hide from it, can we?
While I whole-heartedly admit that the film managed to enchant me enough to make me want to read the book. I can’t not make any references to the film while writing about this book, sorry. It’s something new and scary for me. We are often so influenced by the thing that comes first and that sometimes, we can’t let it go even while another interpretation of the same thing is done in a different media. That’s always been my problem when it came to books being adapted for large screen. For once, I am working in reverse order and it feels strange, I must admit.
Anyway. The book tells a story of first love, the way a young person becomes attached fast, the way someone explores their first feelings of something. It’s not quite love but it’s not completely lust either, the way the author tells us the story, he makes sure that it’s not your typical ‘Coming-of-Age’ book. It has depth, it has the darkness that most others would shy away from. The obsessive and at times, cringy attachment that Elio feels, it’s all part of the whole package, isn’t it? Having your first love?
Aciman’s writing is absolutely wonderful, he really manages to draw you in. I live in India, the summer has already started, reading about the summer made it very easy to visualize, frankly. (I know, I know, Italian summer is different from Indian summer but hey, guess what? Summer is summer, it’s hot, it has awesome fruits and it’s unbearably hot.) The lengths he goes to make sure you can literally see everything happening in the novel is frankly intimidating, the level of detail is brilliant. Sometimes it does become too much, I suppose. Some scenes, I had to make sure I was reading in private, I had to literally stop reading to make sure I was alone. Not because of some weird reasons, but should someone peek in, I didn’t want them to read the things I was reading.
When it comes to sex, there’s quite a bit of it? I don’t mind that, having read so many romance novels over the years, I have become a bit numb to those but what really made me uncomfortable was the way he wrote the feelings behind the sex. How Elio thought when he was imagining getting together with Oliver, how it was so awfully all-consuming. The constant worry, the hot and cold way their relationship wavered, the way Oliver never really seemed ruffled from Elio’s point of view, initially. Because Elio is the way he is, he manages to get tangled in his own thoughts enough to make me confused at times. (Or maybe it was just the heat for me, who knows, temperatures really are a bit much at this time, frankly.)
All in all, I think I might have wanted to stop reading the book at times because of the intense way Elio thinks, and see and feels but I am really glad that I didn’t stop. I am glad that the book didn’t really let me stop, even with all the doubt and angst and love and pain and every kind of emotion, I came to love this book. I think it will remain in my forever favourite list for years to come.
I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone, at the end of it, this is a book about first love. Something almost everyone has gone through. You might not relate to everything in the book but at times, you would have your own nostalgia running through your mind. I must say that while everyone is almost languid in terms of pace in this book, this is not quite a relaxing book. But I can’t recommend it enough. Trust me.