Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman has been on my to-read list for years, but after seeing the film I knew I needed some time to forget as many details as possible. Besides, the film was devastating itself, so I needn’t say that I wasn’t emotionally prepared to be ripped apart by the book as well. However, in light of Pride month and attending my first ever Pride march, but also having forgotten details from the film, I decided to pick it up once and for all. Hence, a couple of days ago I felt brave enough to embark on a journey I knew the ending of.
Considering how outstanding certain aspects regarding the novel were, it’s quite difficult to find the right words; however, what struck me at first and instantly pulled me into the novel is Aciman’s prose. He not only manages to comprise a whole palette of emotions through a rather delicate bunch of words and structures, but his writing drips with a honesty that, at points, cuts to the bone. If not for his writing, the plotline might have been quite dull, but the author manages to pen down ideas and construct characters and their environment in such a manner one cannot help but notice the vividness of…just about everything. Although the natural elements and their descriptions are stunning on their own, what struck me with awe was how the two characters – that being, Elio and Oliver – are contoured against a world that doesn’t necessarily work in their favour. Suddenly finding themselves in a whirlwind of emotions, self-discoveries and passion, the protagonists bond over their commonalities, ending in a momentarily pleasant story that culminates with the unavoidable. It certainly isn’t a heart-warming (although arguable), easy-going type of story, but one that doubtlessly leaves it’s readers in pieces, trying to put them back together. While it might sound quite dramatic – or even romantic -, it’s not, and if you’ve read the novel (or at least watched the film), you know that Elio and Oliver’s story is as disheartening as it can be. Regardless, Call Me by Your Name is one of those rare books that shake you to the core and leave you shattered.
For the most part, the novel consists of Elio’s thoughts, wishes and fantasies, obviously conveyed through a first-person narration, and while these are certainly indicative of Aciman’s tremendous writing skills, I also found them to be ideal in terms of intriguing and provoking the reader. I found the excruciatingly detailed encounters between the protagonists even more conspicuous for they are, in fact, both absorbing and consuming the one who dears reading it. As for my favourite part, Elio’s father’s moving monologue is doubtlessly the section that I will always go back to for a bit of comfort. Those who read the novel certainly do know why that father-son speech is outstanding, and those who didn’t – well, see for yourselves, I promise you won’t regret doing so. Conclusively, Call Me by Your Name is one of those few books that will stay with me for a long time, if not forever. Awful but fascinating, deeply sad and powerful, mesmerizing yet melancholic, this coming-of-age story must definitely be included on the list of books one must read at least once in their lifetimes. If anything, I believe re-reading it would only give it another meaning or complete the one already identified.
Title: Call Me by Your Name
Author: André Aciman
Publication Date: 2017
Publisher: Atlantic Books