17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So perfect it hurts
This is one of the most remarkable, most beautiful and most harrowing books I have ever read. It should be prescribed reading for any would-be writer. No. Hold the 'would-be'. It deals with the brief, intense love affair between a seventeen year-old, highly precocious youth and a twenty five year old, fairly experienced man. In many ways it is a modern take on the...
Published on 5 Mar. 2009 by N Foster
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spoiled
Although powerfully evocative and heady, this novel frequently annoyed and angered me. Why is it so coy about geographical location? I found the consummate intellectual superiority, erudition and talent of every single charcter unrealistic and overblown, the lack of jealousy in Elio, not to mention his ability while professing an undying adoration for Oliver to go off and...
Published on 4 Aug. 2010 by J Chandler
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So perfect it hurts,
This is one of the most remarkable, most beautiful and most harrowing books I have ever read. It should be prescribed reading for any would-be writer. No. Hold the 'would-be'. It deals with the brief, intense love affair between a seventeen year-old, highly precocious youth and a twenty five year old, fairly experienced man. In many ways it is a modern take on the Classical Greek ideal, Athens rather than Sparta. But it can't be categorised as a 'Gay' novel, any more than Cavafy is only a 'gay' poet. Homophobes will undoubtedly hate it, if only because it posits a natural state of bi-sexuality. . . and underlines that a same-sex relationship can be, is often far more, as emotionally and intellectually rewarding as a heterosexual one, albeit very different and carrying within it the seeds of its own, natural destruction. Yet the novel is not political in any sense, nor preachy. It is dramatic, will take your emotions on a ride you'll never forget. It is beautifully, beautifully written and without any of that smug, look-at-me cleverness of so many British and American novelists. I am a writer. I would give my eye-teeth to write a closing paragraph half as good as the one in this book. I have found myself reading passages aloud. Andre Aciman is some kind of genius: my kind and I so hope your as well.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Impressive Debut Novel from Andre Aciman,
Andre Aciman, a noted essayist and City University of New York professor of comparative literature, has written one of the most memorable debut novels published this year, "Call Me by Your Name", ranking alongside Eugene Drucker's "The Savior" for its emotional intensity, as well as its high literary quality. It's a truly memorable coming-of-age story about an adolescent Italian Jewish man, Elio, who learns a lot about love and total intimacy from a visiting American professor, Oliver, during a brief six week period one summer, set, sometime, in Italy, back in the 1970s or 1980s. Aciman offers us an honest, unflinching portrait of total intimacy, showing how these two men gradually move from mere friendship to an all too brief, but intense, romantic encounter, in a small town on the Italian Riviera, and then later, one night, in Rome, shortly before Oliver flies back home. It is an encounter that will truly haunt both men for the rest of their lives, as depicted in occasional scenes that jump forward to the present day. Aciman's portrait is truly compelling, and one that I found impossible to put down (No wonder why it has been considered for prominent literary awards, such as the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction.); Aciman is not only a fine literary stylist, but a compelling storyteller too. Without question, his fine novel deserves ample consideration, not only from those familiar with his excellent nonfiction prose, but also from others, such as yours truly, who are not fully acquainted with his work.
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "If not later, when?",
This review is from: Call Me by Your Name (Hardcover)
Set in a small town in Italy, this moving novel captures a meaningful summer in the life of Elio, a 17 year old male. Elio's homelife is relaxed; his intelligent, apparently liberal, parents have a constant flow of relatives and interesting visitors breezing in and out of their house for meals and animated conversation. The downside, as far as Elio is concerned, is that no one seeks his opinion - he is "the youngest at the table and the least likely to be listened to". Each summer, Elio's father invites a young academic to stay at their summer home on the Italian Riviera. Fearing the typical "dull house guest", Elio is immediately captivated when the confident, handsome, 24 year old Oliver strolls into his home, and his life. For the first few weeks of Oliver's stay, Elio fantasises about Oliver, and becomes involved with mind games and nuances. But are they all in his imagination, or is Oliver also involved in the game?
The novel is tautly crafted and so evocative of the environment that the reader can vividly sense the undercurrent of tense sideways glances against the backdrop of hazy heat and salt-speckled sea breeze. Undoubtedly some issues remain unresolved, such as the peculiar absence of jealousy felt by Elio ("It never bothered me to think of him [sleeping with a girl]"), or any explanation as to why Elio feels that a relationship with Oliver would be in some sense 'wrong'. Further, Elio's 'voice' often sounds younger than his stated 17 years, and the novel might have held more powerful authenticity if Elio had been, for example, 13 or 14 years old. Nevertheless, under this author's expert craftsmanship, such queries are largely insignificant and all form part of the three-dimensional nature of the characters.
Overall, 'Call Me By Your Name' is a enthralling novel of adolescent insecurity, lust, obsession and intensely passionate emotions ("to be who I am because of you"). André Aciman writes with easy fluidity, creating beguiling characters, page-turning suspense, intense eroticism and nostalgic poignancy. Highly recommended.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars cor cordium...heart of hearts,
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This book broke my heart! I feel it's important to say that before anything else, because I don't want to give you the wrong impression; that this is some kind of fluffy tale of a forbidden holiday romance. That would cheapen it, and despite the occasional sex scenes which might put off a few sensitive readers, this is a story not cheap in any way, shape or form.
Call Me By Your Name is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful things I have ever read (probably the most beautiful, second only to Lolita). It is the story of a passionate, intimate and eternal - yet doomed - love between a boy named Elio and his father's house guest, Oliver, and the incredible connection that grows between them over the summer, and culminates in a tragically all-too-brief stay in Rome. The boys grow into men but their friendship, and complete and total yearning for each other, continues to draw them together even as life draws them apart...
I'll confess it took me a while to get into this story; lack of dialogue tagging made it hard for me to know who was speaking, and Elio's narrative voice sometimes gets carried away on boring tangents - he's a little too high-brow to be believeable as a 17 year old. But at the same time the innocent, desperate boy's prose, imagery, and obsessive fantasies about the carefree Oliver (which he gradually comes to realise are not as pathetically one-sided as he thought!) are mesmeric, and only a few chapters in I found myself hypnotised by the sights, sounds and smells of the mediterranean, as if I'd been sucked right into Elio and Oliver's beautiful world. As I say, there is a lot of infuriating back and forth, lazy days and 'will they won't they' going on in the beginning, but don't let it put you off, because it's all an effective, agonising build up to when they finally do get together.
However...like Cathy and Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights, the characters in this book suffer from major 'bang their heads together' syndrome. It's infuriating, and I often wanted to scream 'WHY? WHY DON'T YOU JUST BE TOGETHER???!!! ARGH!!' Honestly, it's incredible how much effect this book had on me. The image of Elio and Oliver's kiss in Rome will be forever burned into my imagination as though I was right there with them, and one bit of the book right near the end when Elio is wishing that he could tell Oliver something and just can't...wow, that bit made me put down the book for a moment and just burst into tears. I literally could not stop sobbing for about five minutes - I cannot remember the last time any book made me cry that hard!! (Apart from when Dobby died in Harry Potter, but that's a story for another day...)
Call Me By Your Name is both a celebration and a eulogy, and even though it leaves you with a bittersweet ache inside, it also leaves you with the memories of one of the most enduring love stories ever written. Beautiful and heartrending, this is utter class and will stay with me until my dying day. I hope that, one long hot summer in the distant future, I might be brave enough to grab some tissues, curl up, and let Elio and Oliver take me back to Monet's Berm with them.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong and Moving,
This wonderful novel by Andre Aciman is so moving and powerful, it brought out every emotion in me as I read. I could not put the book down, wanting to find out how the two main characters and their relationship developed. For me, a special moment is when Elio, the 17 year-old main character's father tells him, "You had a beautiful friendship...", (referring to his relationship with Oliver) "Maybe more than a friendship... most parents would hope the whole thing goes away... remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once." By the end of book I was moved to tears and I can't stop thinking about the story and what might have been for the two characters Elio and Oliver.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Longing and misunderstandings in beautiful prose,
This review is from: Call Me by Your Name (Paperback)
Every year Elio's parents invite an overseas scholar to come to their summer cottage on the Italian coast to work on his manuscript. In the meantime he can make use of all the facilities, as long as he helps to keep up the intellectual conversation after the meals and helps Elio's father with his correspondence. The year that Elio, a very intelllectual boy, is 17 years old they have invited Oliver, a young scientist from America. From the beginning Elio is fascinated by Oluiver: the way he behaves, the way he talks, the way he moves, his ease in life, but somehow he does not know how to get through to Oliver. Sometimes it seems that there is contact, then something happens that drives them apart again. It takes until a few weeks before Oliver's leave for Elio and Oliver to really solve their misunderstandings, after which they become very dear friends. But Oliver has to return to America...
A book about first loves, longing, the inability to express your feelings, misunderstanding when you try to interpret other people's actions and behaviour and all those other things that anybody who has been in love recognizes. Written in a beautiful style and covered in an Italian summer holiday sauce. A joy to read.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FIRST LOVE,
I read this novel over 3 days whilst on holiday, so could devote more time to a novel than usual, what a treat I had! It brought back all my memories of first falling in love and of first real desire. It also brought back my fear of making a fool of myself and all the uncertainty involved in my obsession.
The story tells of a 17 year old's love and desire for a man who comes to stay, for the summer, at his parents Italian villa and the resulting intense affair that occurs and its resulting aftermath. It is beautifully written and the writer creates a real sense of drama and longing. I cried buckets at the end. It did not matter that I am a hetrosexual person, as love like this and its loss, can be felt by any person of whatever sexual persuasion. Can hardly wait for his next novel!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome psychological study of obsession, intimacy and regret,
I read this novel on a skiing holiday in two days as I was entranced and enthralled by the sheer magic of the writing and the inescapable denouement. It has re-awoken feelings of potential romance and unconditional love that I havent felt for years. Aciman has laid bare the raw emotions and tactical chess games we play as we seek out love and friendship in an adolescent voice that still resonates in me, a 40 year old. It is not just about lust, gay or straight, but about a once in a life time feeling of being completely whole through intimacy with another.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Over again,
Never in my six decades have I finished a book only to start reading it again immediately from page one. Until this one. Today I finished it for the second time and realised how much of its richness I had missed in the first read. Whenever I finish a book I feel sad, now I am doubly so. I will pause a while before starting it again. Amongst its wonderful prose is, I think, my favourite quote:
"I suddenly realised that we were on borrowed time, that time is always borrowed, and that the lending agency exacts its premium precisely when we are least prepared to pay and need to borrow more."
I suppose, as the Romans used to say - carpe diem - although that day is transient and forms part of the loan to be eventually repaid.
A wonderful book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An indulgence.,
This is the second time I have finished the book, and I fully understand what you are saying. It is slightly disgruntling to find that the author, after such brilliant writing, forgets or chooses not to imply Oliver's thoughts on the whole scenario. Of course the book is in first person with very little dialogue (at least the kind with speech marks), but Oliver goes off by himself and creates a life, while its still apparent he cares for Elio and Co. the sadness therein lies with the ending, which for obvious reasons i'm not going to say on here. The book only slightly suggests that, after all this Oliver never realised quite how much he meant to Elio, and damagingly so. Of course Elio grows to have 'better' lovers "Oliver, who loomed like a fulcrum on the scale of life, eventually aquired sucessors who either eclipsed him or reduced him to an early milestone". I admit I like the authors lack of 'labels' but the way he brings harsh passionate love to the forfront during some intense scenes is out of line with the rest of the book.
I warn that it had me in tears, so much so I would've preferred not to have read it as memories cannot be erased. It is a fantastic, yet tragic, piece of writing which is with the top 5 of my 'favourite' books.
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Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman (Paperback - 22 Jan. 2008)
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