Call Me By Your Name

André Aciman

I spent about a month trying to read Vladimir Nabokov’s Speak, Memory before finally accepting that the passages I liked were buried in overwrought nostalgia about a privileged childhood that just didn’t resonate with me. It felt like the wrong sort of prose to apply persistence to appreciating. Instead I turned to this novel with similar reminiscent ambitions, but far more engrossing story. Elio recalls the summer he was seventeen when he fell for a visiting scholar who came to the family villa for a summer residency. He tries his best to act indifferent to the man, but they share a brief romance.

On the heels of my Nabokov abandonment, the descriptions of the idyllic scenery along the Italian Riviera at first felt too perfect and too idealized — but not for long. I got wrapped up in the allure of it soon enough. Eventually summer fades, and the narrative evolves into an elegy. There were many parts that tugged at my heart, yet maybe none more than a scene where Elio’s father tells him:

Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching others forget us sooner than we’d want to be forgotten is no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything — what a waste!

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