Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Call Me By Your Name

"But what I'd spoken into his pillow revealed to me that, at least for a moment, I'd rehearsed the truth, gotten it out into the open, that I had in fact enjoyed speaking it, and if he happened to pass by at the very moment I was muttering things I wouldn't have dared to speak to my own face in the mirror, I wouldn't have cared, wouldn't have minded"
- Andre Aciman, Call Me by Your Name, p 63

What is the difference between the lover and beloved, the watcher and the one watched? In his story of Eros and education Andre Aciman considers these questions and demonstrates the answers. With emphasis on the erotic, he has created a seeming Proustian meditation on time and desire, a love letter, an invocation in words that one must call simply "beautiful". His novel, Call Me by Your Name, is a wonderful tale whose dream-like qualities continually evoke the narrator's obscure object of desire which is, by definition, inexpiable, and indeterminate. For the details of the story I recommend you read the book, not because it is banal but rather because it is too beautiful to risk spoiling.

This book constantly reminded me that it was fiction - the product of an imagination able to create an unreal dream world - yet I did not mind because it was simply, joyously readable. I was both entranced and intrigued by the narrator, whose name is withheld for much of the novel, but this is because, as the title implies, he is entranced and intrigued himself by his family's summer guest, Oliver, who seems to be nothing less than a Greek god. The subtle allusions to poetry and philosophy, the music of the senses, add to the magnificence of this short novel. Perhaps it will not effect everyone the same as it did me, but for those who appreciate the classical source of beauty this is a novel that ranks with Mann and Gide in its glistening presence.

Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York. 2007

No comments: