‘Did I want him to act? Or would I prefer a lifetime of longing provided we both kept this little Ping-Pong game going: not knowing, not-not knowing, not-not-not knowing? Just be quiet, say nothing, and if you can’t say “yes,” don’t say “no,” say “later.” Is this why people say “maybe” when they mean “yes”, but hope you’ll think it’s “no” when all they really mean is, Please, just ask me once more, and once more after that?’
Call Me By Your Name, Andre Aciman, pg18
To me that is beautiful. Beautiful writing, beautiful thoughts.
It reminds me of the pace I loved within Virginia Woolf’s modernist writing, during which commas are usually the preferred punctuation, and Full stops are almost constantly null and void, because who needs to take a breath when reading a paragraph…
This pace ensures that these thoughts are read with honesty, realism, and such a genuine urge to have questions answered.
This is the first Andre Aciman novel that I have read. With Call Me By Your Name now on screens as well as bookshelves, I thought I’d have a look.
It was so intimate. So blunt, and so real.
There were moments throughout the book that felt uncomfortable to read. For example a bizarre sexual encounter with a peach and an awkwardly personal sharing moment in a hotel toilet. But I believe it was the intention for me to feel strangely invasive reading these chapters.
The relationship that wanted to exist and sometimes did throughout this book of recollective writing is deeply personal, as relationships should be. There are moments in any and all relationships that exist only between yourself and that significant other, that you do not want to be shared or discussed on a wider scale or regaled for larger audiences. Andre Aciman wrote these moments, and by placing them throughout the novel, the reader then became the imposing third party.
The film focuses on the innocence of the younger character, which I think is fantastic. During the book these same moments are narrated through the eyes of someone who has experienced them and who has gone on to experience more beyond that. The voice of the novel knows, whereas the eyes of the film do not.
For that reason I believe that neither is better or worse than the other. Instead they read and view as the same story existing through different tenses, times and levels of maturity. Both can be wrong or both can be right in their interpretation of life and the events of that summer. The film is a set of young eyes before they gain the experience that leads to the book narration, but regardless, both are those same eyes. Innocent, then knowledgeable.
If anything James Ivory and Luca Guadagnino took a beautiful, reflective, honest novel and stripped it right back to the innocent romantic internal struggle.
I will be reading more by Andre Aciman.