dehner: new worlds

World Lit Rec #3

Uploaded with Snapbucket Call Me By Your Name
by Andre Aciman

Countries represented: Set in Italy, written by an Egyptian author who spent part of his adolescence there

How I found this book: New York Times book review

Review:  Apparently, when I read this book, I found a lot to criticize about its opening chapters:  the narrator seemed pretentious, the narrator's crush seemed pathetic, the plot didn't move quickly enough, etc. etc.  It's strange to read that now because all I remember is that I really, really loved this book.  Set at some indefinite point in the past, it tells the story of 17-year-old Elio's forbidden longing for the family's 24-year-old houseguest, Olivier. Deeply ingrained social mores prevent them from communicating their feelings for one another, and the book is mostly about the honest, dramatic, and moving ways both men defy and succumb to those conventions.  Although I do remember feeling annoyed by the constant stream of literary and historical allusions, I was also moved by the eloquent descriptive prose -- so much so that I actually dog-eared several sections toward the end, though I can't share any of them with you because they're so spoilery.  Suffice it to say that even though I was frustrated by some of the writing decisions early in the novel, the story and characters have stuck with me for many years.

The world lit factor: Sometimes books by international authors expose you to new cultures; sometimes they just tell human stories that could have happened anywhere.  Italy does provide an atmospheric setting, but the real focus is on the boys' relationship.  I could imagine their longing and their confusion about their sexuality happening anywhere in the world, in the past or in the present.

This post brought to you by my project to read a book from every country in the world.
Apparently, when I read this book, I found a lot to criticize about its opening chapters: the narrator seemed pretentious, the narrator's crush seemed pathetic, the plot didn't move quickly enough, etc. etc.

This is exactly why I couldn't get through the book, even though I was initially so excited to read it. I wanted to throw it across the room. I guess it gets better toward the end?
I truly loved the ending - so much so that I was kind of puzzled when I read my initiial notes about the book and saw that half of them were negative. I may not have loved it when I first read it, but it's one of those books that's stuck with me for a very long time.
Hey! Wait! I've read a book by him!

And now everything you said about his writing style makes perfect sense. I mean, there were times I couldn't put it down, and there were times I was less-than-thrilled.

Also, this project is awesome and I'm really enjoying reading your reviews. Wanted to let you know. :)
Was it his memoir that I read? I heard that it was good but occasionally annoying.

Glad you are enjoying the recs! There are lots more to come.
Yep. The location and history were fascinating but his writing wasn't alwasy.

Oh, looking forward to them!