Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Call Me by Your Name

by André Aciman

The first review of this book that I read made it sound really boring — and I am totally OK with books in which not much happens, so it must have sounded re-e-eally boring. I don't recall what tipped me over the edge, but it may have been the sexy cover:

Interesting, isn't it, how an image can be non-explicit and yet somehow sexier than if it were? But I digress...

I really didn't want to read another book about a teenage queer boy and the older (but not much older) man who changed his life. But I'm glad I did. The writing is just lovely, and the emotions are rendered with an intensity and realism that overshadow the plot's un-originality. The book is mostly about the build-up, the excruciating anticipation; then the short-lived explosiveness of the thing itself; and ultimately the book tries be original by tacking on a completely unnecessary chapter showing how one of the lovers never totally gets over it.

I was about to say the book is slim, so the unnecessary epilogue-y bit doesn't ruin it, but I checked online and it's 248 pages. It sure didn't seem that long, which means I must have been reading it quickly, which is kind of odd for a book that's mostly about anticipation — but maybe it isn't. The author writes about one's sense of time being affected by feelings of anticipation and desire, and I must have had an experience similar to the character's. I guess this book is more original (in quality, if not in content) than I thought. (Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure one of the reviews said something to that effect, which means I'm not being original. It's a vicious, vicious circle, isn't it?)

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