Call Me By Your Name
Call Me by Your Name first swept across the world in 2007. It is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. During the restless summer weeks, unrelenting but buried currents of obsession, fascination, and desire intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them and verge toward the one thing both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy. André Aciman’s critically acclaimed debut novel is a frank, unsentimental, heartrending elegy to human passion.
I’ll admit that I was late to the ‘Call Me By Your Name’ party or experience. I was hesitant to watch the movie or read the book because, as I discovered here, once I was finished, I could never have that experience for the first time, again.
This beautiful, lyrical presentation by Armie Hammer was my introduction to this story, before the movie. There is a certain wonder in hearing Elio’s thoughts and words spoken with Armie’s voice, as though he is inside of him, which is, I suppose, perfectly in sync with the story title.
I think that this story with long periods of reflection, introspection, and indecisiveness on the part of Elio could have become tedious for the listener without Mr. Hammer’s eloquent delivery. Although André Aciman has an extraordinary command of the language and can bring the reader/listener to the experience, this sort of writing style is difficult to deliver for audio, with seemingly redundant simile and metaphor, in a way that the listener will remain fully engaged. The story is hailed as a masterpiece by those much more erudite than I but perhaps a difficult read for many. I could appreciate this breathtaking writing more even more cause of the moving presentation by the voice actor. Mr. Hammer’s pacing, cadence, and lyrical delivery were stunning!
We speak of complex characters or well-developed characters but in this case, the best you can say is that the characters are both, perhaps all, in a period of self-discovery and the author brought forth their emotional self-discovery. I had no favorite main character. Sometimes I loved each, sometimes I was entirely disappointed in the behavior (of the character, not the actor).
The first coming together almost had a feeling of foreboding and I couldn’t understand why.
I think that Elio, despite his equivocation, knew what he wanted but didn’t think that he could have it and thus his denial created a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve heard people speak of this as a coming-of-age story but I feel that it is much more, a reflection of the time, the human spirit, and love.
In this case, more than any other in my experience, the book as read, the story as delivered by Mr. Hammer, and the movie are all entirely different experiences, each of great value.