I first heard of ‘Call Me by Your Name’ last year when the movie was announced. I saw that Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet were going to play main characters, but until recently I came upon the realisation that this movie was based on a book and decided to read it before the movie came out. I expected it to be cheesy but I was so wrong.
The book follows Elio, a seventeen year old boy who meets a twenty-four year old grad student named Oliver. Elio’s parents have their villa open in the summer for guests which they choose – usually the guests are all academics who are there to finish their drafts. Upon meeting the new guest Elio feels annoyed that yet another guest is coming to their home to take his room while he has too sleep somewhere else but this time his perception changes as he begins to know the guest. Right from the start of this novel we learn that Elio is narrating the happenings of that summer as he remembers it many many years ago. A long time has passed since then but he still has a good recollection of it. This book doesn’t have a happy ending even though you really want it to. That summer, a seventeen year old young man is like all seventeen year olds – he is still learning about life and it’s mysterious ways. Oliver seems like a well lived person from whom Elio can learn more things, the things which cannot be read in books. They begin getting closer and closer and Elio, like all people, likes to over-analise every situation possible that they go through. What goes through his mind is so powerful and the reader has the chance to experience it along with him. This isn’t a novel that’s just about those explicit scenes, it’s more than that, it’s a love story which gets to you. You begin to care for both of the characters and yell at Elio to do what he wants to do and not just think it. From this friendship grows something bigger and more important. Then the ending comes and you want to scream because you don’t want it to end that way.
I wanted to read this because since ‘A Little Life’ I haven’t really read a book that explores the theme of love and sexuality. This book will throw you across the room and take your heart out of your chest. Now that I think about it, why did I even decide to read it? But then I remember that even though it causes pain – it’s still a good book which I enjoyed reading. I love the way Aciman characterised Elio because he feels like a real seventeen year old and the way he was over-thinking about things made him even more real. Long after you finish this book it’ll still stay and create hollowness in you. I am honestly looking forward to the film and not looking forward to it because it will ruin me again. I have read a few reviews of the film and the critics seem to be very pleased with it.
If you’re looking for a heart-wrenching but still worth it book then this is the one for you. Give it a try because there’s such complexity to it and realness which make it a rewarding read.
André Aciman was born in Alexandria, Egypt and is an American memoirist, essayist, novelist, and scholar of seventeenth-century literature. He has also written many essays and reviews on Marcel Proust. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Condé Nast Traveler as well as in many volumes of The Best American Essays. Aciman received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University, has taught at Princeton and Bard and is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at The CUNY Graduate Center. He is currently chair of the Ph. D. Program in Comparative Literature and founder and director of The Writers’ Institute at the Graduate Center.