Nancy's Reviews > Call Me by Your Name

Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman
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Apr 30, 2016

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bookshelves: fiction, lgbt, queereaders-group-read, made-me-cry, library-books
Read from August 22 to 25, 2010

I found this novel painfully slow going at times. There was too much introspection, too little dialogue. The young grad student and the 17-year-old narrator annoyed me with their wishy-washy feelings and emotions. I craved more intensity and passion. Despite its flaws, I was gradually swept away by the lovely writing, the setting, and growing intimacy between the two main characters. Knowing early on these two young men were not destined to remain together did not prevent me from being deeply moved by the story’s poignant conclusion.
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Reading Progress

08/25 page 156
61.0% "peaches....mmmmm." 1 comment
04/30 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-31 of 31) (31 new)

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Gerhard Yeah, Elio is quite irritating in the beginning, and Oliver seems way over-infatuated. But the relationship balances out and finds its rhythm. I think the problem Aciman encounters here is writing about sensuality vs. physical sex ... like teasing the honey pot with a single bee.


Nancy I'm of such mixed feelings about this book. It deserves a higher rating than I gave it, mostly because it still stands out in my mind over lots of other books I've read since then (even those I rated higher). The writing is lovely and it is really sad.

I can't eat a peach now without thinking of this story.


Gerhard I understand your ambivalence. You'll be even more frustrated at Harvard Square, a bromance ...with no dripping peaches.


Nancy It has lots of mixed reviews, yet you rated it 5 stars as well. I liked Harvard Square before all the chain stores invaded.


Gerhard Yeah HS resonates a lot ito the Arab Spring and the expat experience in America. It is a masterful character study, haunting ending. Aciman's writing has a lingering power.


J.P. I agree with the mixed feelings. Overall I felt it was a heterosexual writer's attempt to put himself into the POV of a teen gay man and not being all that successful at it. As with Mulder, I wanted to like it.


Gerhard J.P. wrote: "I agree with the mixed feelings. Overall I felt it was a heterosexual writer's attempt to put himself into the POV of a teen gay man and not being all that successful at it. As with Mulder, I wante..."

Ouch. I don't think the author's heterosexuality can be used as an indictment of the novel's gay content.

Also, remember that this is far more than a 'gay teen' love story. Aciman is writing about something rather universal: how an ineffable object of desire is transmuted through time and memory.

I think the ambivalence is partly due to the fact that Aciman does not conform to the conventions / tropes of the gay novel.

This is not to say it is a perfect novel: I agree there is a bit too much interiority. But the writing is exquisite.


J.P. You may not think the author's heterosexuality can be used as an indictment, but I went there, so obviously it can. I just don't think Aciman's portrayal of that relationship was particularly believable. It kept me away from the story. I was once a gay teen - I may not have spent time so close to where Shelley disappeared beneath the waves, but I remember what it was like to have that first flush of love.

As for tropes of the gay novel, I do think Aciman was attempting at least a nod to those with a certain red speedo.


J.P. OK. I totally do not remember the "peach" scene. Will someone please refresh my memory? Pleeeeease! :)


Gerhard ...Gently press the soft, overripe peach on my cock till I'd pierced the fruit along the crease that reminded me so much of Oliver's ass. The idea seized me and would not let go. I got up and reached for one of the peaches, opened it halfway with my thumbs, pushed the pit out on my desk, and gently brought the fuzzy, blush-coloured peach to my groin...


message 11: by J.P. (new) - rated it 3 stars

J.P. Whoa! Good peaches...*blushes from tip of nose to tips of ears


Nancy J.P. wrote: "I agree with the mixed feelings. Overall I felt it was a heterosexual writer's attempt to put himself into the POV of a teen gay man and not being all that successful at it. As with Mulder, I wante..."

There are plenty of heterosexual writers who feature gay characters in their work. Surely you're not saying that they're all not believable?


Nancy J.P. wrote: "Whoa! Good peaches...*blushes from tip of nose to tips of ears"

There was more, but I no longer have the book.


Gerhard It is an interesting debate. To play devil's advcocate: I think what JP is saying is that a heterosexual writer does not have the same, er, depth of experience, rather than a comment on the veracity or artistic integrity of such a writer's gay characters. I hope. Edmund White, gay author, writes stoking hot 'straight' sex scenes...


Gerhard Nancy wrote: "J.P. wrote: "Whoa! Good peaches...*blushes from tip of nose to tips of ears"

There was more, but I no longer have the book."


Heh.

...When I saw that its reddened core reminded me not just of an anus but of a vagina, so that holding each half in either hand firmly against my cock, I began to rub myself, thinking of no one and of everyone...

Superb example of erotic writing. This goes on for about 3 pages, with a lot of humour in it as well.

Eish! Just got very flustered reading it again.


Nancy Gerhard wrote: "...Edmund White, gay author, writes stoking hot 'straight' sex scenes..."

I'm ashamed to say I haven't read any of his books yet. What would you recommend?


Gerhard Try his latest, Jack Holmes and His Friend. Terrible title, but a great book about unrequited gay love. I have an epub file I can send you.
Also good: A Boy's Own Story, The Married Man, The Farewell Symphony. He has written a lot of travel stuff and critical/arts books as well. The man is talented. And sexy.


Scott Read a Boy's Own Story....and I agree about having a love-hate relationship about this book.


Nancy Gerhard wrote: "Try his latest, Jack Holmes and His Friend. Terrible title, but a great book about unrequited gay love. I have an epub file I can send you.
Also good: A Boy's Own Story, The Married Man, The Farewe..."


My library doesn't have a copy, so I'll take you up on that offer. Thanks!


Nancy Scott wrote: "Read a Boy's Own Story....and I agree about having a love-hate relationship about this book."

Haven't seen you in ages, Scott.


Scott Nancy wrote: Haven't seen you in ages, Scott."

I have been busy and was not reading much at all. I am now making sure to set aside a little time to read...therefore, I will be active on goodreads more :)


message 22: by J.P. (new) - rated it 3 stars

J.P. Nancy wrote: "There are plenty of heterosexual writers who feature gay characters in their work. Surely you're not saying that they're all not believable?"

I'm definitely not saying that, though I don't know many straight writers who feature gay characters as anything more than side characters. In this case, it is a main character - and in this case, it wasn't quite believable to me. And I would go further and say that, this writer didn't make a particularly believable teen character either.


message 23: by Gerhard (last edited Oct 14, 2013 06:39AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gerhard This got me to thinking about books by 'straight' authors that feature major gay characters:

Three Junes, The Whole World Over by Julia Glass
Tell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
The Steel Remains, The Cold Commands by Richard Morgan
The Adventures of Kavalier & Klay by Michael Chabon
Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
The Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker
Disgrace by JM Coetzee
Turing & Burroughs by Rudy Rucker
Crash by JG Ballard


message 24: by J.P. (last edited Oct 14, 2013 06:39AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

J.P. I've thought of two: Heather Newton's Under the Mercy Trees and Jim Fergus's The Wild Girl.

So, to be clear, I'm not saying, blanketly, that heterosexual writers can't write gay characters. I'm saying that IMHO Andre Aciman did not do it successfully.

Peaches and red speedos aside.


Gerhard So, to be clear, I'm not saying, blanketly, that heterosexual writers can't write gay characters. I'm sa..."

Roger on that. I just went off on a bit of a tangent. Thanks for the suggestions: have not read either.


Nancy Gerhard wrote: "This got me to thinking about books by 'straight' authors that feature major gay characters:

Three Junes, The Whole World Over by Julia Glass
Tell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
The Stee..."


A couple more come to mind:

Butch Fatale, Dyke Dick - Double D Double Cross
In One Person

The titles you listed would fall solidly under the "general fiction" category, I think. I am curious why certain books are labeled "gay fiction". Is it because such books don't have as much crossover appeal if the characters are "too gay?"


Gerhard Nancy wrote:"The titles you listed would fall solidly under the "general fiction" category, I think. I am curious why certain books are labeled "gay fiction". Is it because such books don't have as much crossover appeal if the characters are "too gay?"

Yes, these are more 'general fiction', even the John Irving. I would classify the Andre Aciman as gay fiction.

I think it's got a lot to do with marketing and genre labels as such, which have a big impact on reader expectations. I, for example, see 'gay fiction' as distinct from 'MM fiction'. I see the former as being more 'literary' than the latter, which is more 'lowbrow' (i.e. lots more sex). I read general fiction and gay fiction, also horror, SF and historical ... but I don't read lesbian fiction (I am woefully ignorant here, and don't even know if this constitutes a distinct genre; I'm sure it must, as Sarah Waters springs to mind -- but she is definitely general fiction. Sigh. So complicated...) Interestingly, you then get sub-genres like 'gay SF' and 'queer horror' as well. Why such a plethora of labels? Does it cater for a broader range of tastes / interests, or does it amplify the 'ghettoisation' of already marginal genres?


Jason It did build up nicely why both were confused and conflicted. Oliver was afraid and for good reason, he was an older lad. Elio depicted with a genuineness that accurately depicted a first male on male encounter. All that confusion and debate and self harm are inherently connected to many guy men's early development of their security. Well at least the guys I know


Jason All this debate over the accuracy of a first love among those in the guy community is fascinating, but let's not forget these reflect our own subjective experiences. We have to be careful to not generalize


Gerhard Nancy, you must try Aciman's latest, Harvard Square.


Nancy Thanks for the reminder, Gerhard. I remember your excellent review and plan to check this one out. In spite of my issues with this story, the writing is beautiful and parts of it still stay with me.


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