Thanks to the awards buzz of Luca Guadagnino's mesmerizing and beautifully composed film adaptation starring Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer, AndréThanks to the awards buzz of Luca Guadagnino's mesmerizing and beautifully composed film adaptation starring Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer, André Aciman's "Call Me By Your Name" has seen a signficant boost of attention for the public over the last year (at least I suddenly began to see copies of the novel on every shelf in every bookstore), and the number of conversations about it has only increased. The movie ended up being my first introduction to the story of Elio and Oliver, but I didn't wait long to immerse myself into the novel and learn more about these characters, and it turned out that while a few things may have worked better in the movie and a few things may have worked better in the novel, "Call Me By Your Name" has been written so beautifully and adapted into a cinematic medium so perfectly that both versions of the story balance each other out in their beauty and intimate sense of nostalgia.
I don't even know if that's a satisfying way to describe both the novel and the movie: there is something achingly and painfully slow about the writing; meaning that anyone not interested enough to care about the characters will probably have to face torment and agony during their attempt to get through "Call Me By Your Name". And yet, the prose is patient and hauntingly beautiful, to the extent that it was impossible to not fall in love with the writing style for me. The setting is used sublimely to create a unique and memorable atmosphere. I haven't ever read anything similar to it in terms of style and atmosphere; it has been compared to Alan Hollinghurst's The Swimming-Pool Library or Éric Rohmer's Pauline at the Beach, but honestly, nothing you have ever seen or read before could possibly prepare you for the stunning beauty of "Call Me By Your Name", no matter if you experience the cinematic adaptation or Aciman's fantastic novel first. If you haven't already been interested in picking up the book before reading my review, then I really don't know how to convince you anymore....more
It has been almost one and a half years since I read this tiny little book, but it has not managed to elude my regular thoughts, and for such a plain,It has been almost one and a half years since I read this tiny little book, but it has not managed to elude my regular thoughts, and for such a plain, seemingly unimposing novel without any impressive sequences of action, that should probably say more than enough.
"A Perfect Waiter" deals with a protagonist called Erneste who works as a waiter in a Swiss hotel and has obtained a reputation as being a man who quietly possesses all the qualities expected of a waiter - of a perfect waiter. He is polite and attentive, but remains withdrawn and never puts his personal affairs above his professional obligations. What seemingly nobody knows: Erneste engages himself in a love affair with another waiter, Jakob, but what feels like true, affectionate and tender love to Erneste, is nothing more than just another fling, just another love affair to Jakob.
The action lies in the protagonist's thoughts, in his recollections of the past and his observations of the present, in the quiet existence of his sorrow and solitude. In many ways, one might expect those feelings to amount to some kind of revelation, to an eruption which could mean escape from his predetermined, ordinary and repetitive everyday life. But this eruption never happens, and quietude is what the bars of his prison are made of. The main story (told through flashbacks by Erneste) is set during the mid-1930s, a time when the revelation of Erneste's love affair would have meant his social demise, his ejectment from his work, from the people he knows, from society. He knows that well enough, and the simple knowledge of the fact that there never will be anybody he could possibly discuss the true nature of his emotional condition with causes him to feel like the loneliest person on the planet. He finds escape and distraction in his work, a profession he loves and doesn't want to lose. And to all this, there is only one possibe solution: Erneste has no other choice but to become invisible. And as a waiter, he needs the ability to become invisible, to attend his guests' wishes without them noticing his presence. It's the perfect disguise for his fragile emotional state. After all, there is no reason to think that the wounds inflicted by love might not heal one day, or is there?
The story focuses on being a prisoner in one's profession, on being emotionally injured in an involvement of love. As a result, the two main themes of this novel are two of the things I personally fear the most, and maybe that's why this novel has touched me so profoundly. Erneste's life has been a source of inspiration, and even if this story may be fictional, there is no doubt that the emotional turmoil expressed by author Alain Claude Sulzer is one experienced by many people around the world.
This novel reveals that sometimes it's the quietness which expresses itself the loudest. I honestly have no idea of how you should define perfection in a book - but this tale about a perfect waiter is, to my perception, also a perfect novel....more
Liane Moriarty's novel "Big Little Lies" has become a sensational bestseller of women's fiction in recent years, only supported by its critically acclLiane Moriarty's novel "Big Little Lies" has become a sensational bestseller of women's fiction in recent years, only supported by its critically acclaimed and immensely watchable HBO adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern among others (which features a) some of the best casting choices and b) one of the best cast ensembles I've ever witnessed in a book-to-film/TV adaptation). It may have been a mistake for me to read the novel only after watching the TV show, but to be honest, the adaptation was so fantastic that reading about these people's lives only enhanced the experience of getting to know their respective personal stories.
"Big Little Lies" is absolutely addictive. If I hadn't already known the entire story, I probably would have turned page after page in one sitting alone, and even without this being the case, it didn't take long for me to finish the novel. The plot works brilliantly by using a very interesting formula: take the lives of several characters who appear to be so perfect and oh-so-normal from the outside, and throw them into a difficult situation in order to reveal their true characters by showing how they deal with the situations, and then reveal the dark secrets shadowing their seemingly perfect lives. It's a formula which could not have worked better, though one aspect certainly helped: the fact that the characters were so vibrant. We got to know every little shade of their souls, and even with the uncomfortable subjects which are placed at the heart of the story, it felt comforting to place oneself in their neighborhood and watch their conflict-disquieted lives unravel. Yes, it was certainly uncomfortable at times, but that was the entire point of the novel. It's the reason this book is so memorable and different in the first place. Self-centered people like the characters portrayed in Liane Moriarty's world live all around the planet. What the show did so great was to paint these women in such an interesting light that you could not help but root for them anyway.
I'm definitely checking out Liane Moriarty's other books....more
The adaption starring Tom Hanks, Jim Broadbent and Halle Berry is one of my favorite movies (and I know it has its flaws and is criticized for good reThe adaption starring Tom Hanks, Jim Broadbent and Halle Berry is one of my favorite movies (and I know it has its flaws and is criticized for good reasons, but don't we all sometimes push rational reasons aside in our judgments?), so of course I have to read this book as soon as possible....more
Though not as popular as Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is an extremely important novel with a huge number of interestiThough not as popular as Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is an extremely important novel with a huge number of interesting themes which are explored in its rather short amount of pages. In this family saga and moving tale of friendship, hate and love at the same time, Hosseini abbreviates several decades of important history into a fictional story spanning more than thirty years.
It's a depressing novel, consisting of a rather dark atmosphere and many chapters which will leave you gasping for breath due to the sheer amount of brutality and inhumanity some characters seem to love carrying out. What I found most intriguing in this novel was the way Hosseini managed to provide a lot of information about the history of Afghanistan, a country which has been dominated by war and destruction for such a long time. At times he came close to sounding like a nonfictional correspondent of the events with his prose, but fortunately it never felt like the author was trying to pour infodump out on his readers.
"A Thousand Splendid Suns" is a tough book to review, simply because it deals with so many socially relevant issues that it feels like nitpicking to talk about the writing and the characterization. It's an important book which I can only encourage everyone to read as soon as possible, considering that it offers plenty food for your thoughts and leaves you pondering about themes and questions which you may not have thought about in such detailed precision before. My biggest problem with the novel was mostly about the main characters Laila and Mariam, who - thanks to the rather detached and neutral writing style - felt very difficult to connect or relate to. I started rooting for these characters throughout the course of the novel, though that's rather obvious to say considering the fate these two women had to endure in the course of the plot.
As a final note, I think this book - or Hosseini's other books in general - should receive more attention by the public. Nowadays, especially here in Germany, there is a lot of displeasure directed towards foreigners and their cultures, not necessarily people from Afghanistan, but the Middle East and Far East in general. Hosseini manages to introduces his readers who are not familiar with the cultures described in this novel to a different world, a world I personally didn't know as much about before reading "A Thousand Splendid Suns" (and still wouldn't consider myself knowing a lot about). Khaled Hosseini's writing transports the important message that no matter where we come from, we are still all humans. Here in Germany and probably in many other places on our planet as well, people often tend to forget that coming from a different culture does not mean those humans are worth any less than we all are, and I think Hosseini's writing has the strength to remind more people of this fact. We are all human, and everyone deserves to be treated as such - no matter which cultural background you belong to....more