four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
28-May-June-2007
user_rating: 
0

A-Call Me By Your NameElio—17 years old, Jewish, smart, and sensitive—lives with his mother and father, an expatriate professor, in a small village on the Italian Riviera. There he happily sleeps with girls and studies musicology. Everything changes with the arrival of Oliver, a 24-year-old scholar from Columbia who takes up residence in Elio’s family’s villa in order to finish a manuscript on Heraclitus. Oliver is brazenly Jewish, charismatic, and dismissive—and he is absolutely irresistible to young Elio, who wants nothing more than intimacy. Through flashbacks Elio recalls how, over the course of a summer, he and Oliver fell in love—or was it lust?—in this nostalgic, sensual, and sometimes graphic coming-of-age novel.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 248 pages. $23. ISBN: 0374299218

NY Times Book Review 4.5 of 5 Stars
"This novel is hot. A coming-of-age story, a coming-out story, a Proustian meditation on time and desire, a love letter, an invocation and something of an epitaph, Call Me by Your Name is also an open question." Stacey D’Erasmo

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"The novel is richly, sensuously detailed, from Elio’s testosterone-fueled fantasies to the pair’s passionate couplings to such vivid descriptions of the Italian countryside one can almost smell the ocean and feel the heat. … I kept wondering where the parents were in all this." Karen Campbell

San Francisco Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"The novel is told in retrospect; while most of the events take place over the course of a summer, this is the story of a man remembering an important moment in his past. Aciman carries the reader along by the fury of his language, tightly focusing on the all-consuming nature of love (reminding us, along the way, of Nabokov’s Lolita, Stendhal’s On Love and even the Bible’s sensual Song of Songs)." Irina Reyn

Seattle Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Aciman’s prose is alive to each spiral and retraction of feeling, to every signal sent out and withdrawn. The result is a tender-tough story of headlong love and awkward timing that reads like a highbrow cosmopolitan variation on Brokeback Mountain." Michael Upchurch

Los Angeles Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Aciman’s real theme, as indicated by the novel’s title, is the idea of sexual love as absorption—the act by which all barriers are dissolved and the outside becomes one with the thing desired. … Aciman spends his literary currency on [sexual] descriptions that are over the top and detract from the novel’s more nuanced ideas." Judith Freeman

Critical Summary

Beautifully rendered, evocative, and sexually charged, Call Me by Your Name is the Egyptian-born, Sephardic Jew André Aciman’s first novel. His previous two books, the essay collection False Papers and his memoir Out of Egypt, focused on memory and exile. Here—to critical acclaim—he explores a love affair between an adolescent and a young, seductive man. Critics universally praised Aciman’s bold account of obsession and lust and his elegant, sensuous prose. Like few other writers, Aciman evokes a time and place exquisitely—the sunny Italian countryside with its summer heat, the pungent blooms, the sprawling vistas. The Seattle Times sums up general opinion about this must-read: "Every phrase, every ache, every giddy rush of sensation in this beautiful novel rings true."