Call Me by Your Name
By André Aciman
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Omar
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.
The psychological maneuvers that accompany attraction have seldom been more shrewdly captured than in André Aciman’s frank, unsentimental, heartrending elegy to human passion. Call Me by Your Name is clear-eyed, bare-knuckled, and ultimately unforgettable.
I will be honest and say that I found out about this book, by the trailer of the movie that is coming out in November. The trailer was so intriguing that I wondered what the book would be like.
The story is told from the point of view of Elio, as he narrates the story of a summer when he was 17-years-old and a guest came to stay at his parent’s summer house in Italy to help his father with his research. Oliver, the guests of Elio’s family, is an American that is staying at the summer house to work on his book. Since the first time that Elio sees and hears Oliver, he knows that Oliver is going to be a wild ride.
Call Me by Your Name is written as the memories of Elio. I liked that it’s written as if Elio himself was remembering this story and is telling it to somebody else. The narrative never follows an actual timeline of events, Elio himself tells the reader that he doesn’t remember every exact moment, but the most important ones are still clear to him, and are the ones that follow a straighter timeline.
“Mafalda would ask him to climb a ladder with a basket and pick those fruits that were almost blushing with shame, she said. He would joke in Italian, pick one out, and ask, is this one blushing with shame? No, she would say, thus one is too young still, youth has no shame, shame comes with age.” – Elio
I liked the way that Elio narrates the story and his thoughts. Elio’s family are scholars and he, being the only child, growing without a television, reads most of the time. To this, his words and thoughts have a poetic feel that seems to charm the reader in understanding what he feels, and creating a need to continue reading. At the same time, given his knowledge, Elio uses interesting examples when he explains what he feels, and tries to explain to us his emotions of the world.
“I should learn to avoid him, serve each tie, one by one, as neurosurgeons do when they split one neuron from another, one thought-tormented wish from the next, stop heading to town at night, wean myself a bit each day, like an addict, one day, one hour, one minute, one slop-infested second after the other. It could be done. I knew there was no future in this.” – Elio
Call Me by Your Name is a coming of age and first love story. In this case, it is also the romance between two men in the early 80s. Elio tells the reader how he came to understand his emotions for Oliver and how he tried to conceal them first, as he wasn’t sure how Oliver will react to his advances, and doesn’t want to get hurt, even though he knows it is inevitable.
“Time make us sentimental. Perhaps, in the end, it is because of time that we suffer.” – Elio
Scene with Elio and his father. The story had many beautiful scenes, some of them I liked a lot, and others were so well written that made me cry. One of my favorite scenes was the conversation that Elio has with his father after he returns from his trip. Falling in love affects us in many ways, but the most noticeable one is that it makes us grow up. In the scene with his father, we can perceive that they have their conversation as two grown up, both respecting the option of the other and listening to what they have to say. But at the same time, Elio is receiving the comfort that only a parent can give and the experience from somebody that has lived so many things. It was a beautiful scene that shows the read a good father and son bonding and acceptance that we don’t always see in LGBT stories.
“‘What lies ahead is going to be very difficult,’ he started to say, altering his voice. His tone said: We don’t have to speak about it, but let’s not pretend we don’t know what I’m saying. Speaking abstractly was the only way to speak the truth to him.
‘Fear not. It will come. At least I hope it does. And when you least expect it. Nature has cunning ways of finding our weakest spot. Just remember: I am here. Right now you may not want to feel anything. Perhaps you never wished to feel anything. And perhaps it’s not with me that you’ll want to speak about these things. But feel something you did.’” – Elio’s dad.
I’m not exactly sure what caught my attention in the trailer, but I know that it intrigued me so much that I wanted to read the book. In my opinion, I place Call Me by Your Name as a coming of age, a summer love, and first love novel. As a reader, I tend to like happy endings and I think that was what I liked about Call Me by Your Name, as it’s a bittersweet story and a not so happy ending. It’s an irony that a first love story doesn’t end in a happy ending like the rest of its kind, but for those like me that have read many books about love and happiness at the end of the line, it was a refreshing choice. The book reminds us that not all first love’s come true, some burst into existence when we less expect them and last for so long without us knowing, even when they cannot be fulfilled. But at least a summer of a first love lets us have a taste of what could have been and lets us mature and change; and that’s what Call Me by Your Name is for Eliot and Oliver. A summer that they will always be remembered, with Rome, peaches, heaven, and each other’s name.
“Call me by your name and I will call you by mine” – Oliver
If you like romantic and first love stories, but want something different at the end, then I recommend Call Me by Your Name. In this story, author André Aciman tells us the story of two men that meet during a summer in Italy, changing their lives forever while falling in love.