Book Review: Andre Aciman – Call me by your name

Aciman’s wonderfully sensitive book about a teenager’s rite-of-passage proved eminently translatable to the big screen. It was a wonderful film but the book is possibly(?) better. Aciman sets his novel in an erudite hot-house intellectual atmosphere. Elio, the son of an eminent professor, has to vacate his room for a favoured house-guest. On this occasion it’s a university lecturer called Oliver. Oliver awakens in Elio his barely understood gay feelings. Elio’s social skills are stretched to the limit as he tries to attract Oliver.

Elio leads an intellectual life focused on music and ceaseless reading. He uses his virtuosity in music to provoke Oliver’s interest. Simultaneously his shy aloofness attracts a young girl: Marzia. Aciman’s sub-plot is Elio’s passionless affair with Marzia. Regardless of his affair with Marzia Elio now knows he’s gay and treats her with disdain. He has eyes only for Oliver.

Oliver is bi-sexual and resists Elio out of prudence and respect for his father (a power-broker in the academic world). Elio isn’t to be denied notwithstanding his timidity and uses his formidable intelligence to snare Oliver. It becomes apparent that Elio’s parents are silently aware of his passion but don’t disapprove. Oliver’s six week sojourn ends and he returns to the USA and married life. Elio’s passion is undimmed even as he approaches middle-age as a later meeting establishes.

Why you should buy this book: It’s a classic and wonderful depiction of young love.

Why you shouldn’t buy this book: You’ve seen the film and feel that’s enough.

Buy it at Amazon


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