Saturday, August 22, 2009

Call Me by Your Name -- Round One

I am forty pages into Andre Aciman's acclaimed novel of homosexual awakening (for lack of a better succinct term) and waiting for several things:

  • the formation of a timeline, since trying to determine which seemingly insignificant, supposedly revelatory event takes place two days, ten days, or two weeks into the story (So far, there's a lot of zigging and zagging.)

  • some pruning of the lush prose and long and winding sentences, which often leave me breathless in an unpleasant way

  • suspension of disbelief re. the narrator's age (I'm having trouble remembering this is a 17-year-old boy and not Michael Caine's character from the movie Educating Rita.)

  • action and/or more than a few lines of dialogue at a time

  • sex (God, popular fiction has made me one shallow and impatient plebe!)

I just read some reviews on Amazon to see if anybody else had begun to squirm, so quickly, under the weight of this novel's dense, obsessive, and repetitious introspection. Hell yeah; I'm not alone. In fact, there are some very literate and incisive 1-star reviews. A reader actually gave up right around the point I just reached.

I'm intrigued enough to keep going, though, and hope this book's saving graces do indeed save it. (Yes, it has many saving graces, but they're swamped by authorial self-indulgence.) I also hope I don't have to slog through one more dissection and microscopic analysis of the breezy farewell, "Later!" I'd never realized how nuanced it could be. But now that my brain is glutted on its nuances, I could use a break.

Stay tuned.


Kris said...

:) It did take me a while to get past the convoluted timeline and the self-indulgent, rambling introspection. There is no doubt that it has its faults, but I eventually found myself sitting more easily in the headspace of the narrator and did like it in the end.

K. Z. Snow said...

YES! I whined prematurely! (I do that a lot.)

Well, actually, I didn't, because the novel does have an off-putting start. But part way into the second section, that tangle of hyperbolic wondering and brooding and doubting began to smooth out, and the characters as well as the prose began to soar.

I've been completely sucked in by the lyricism now, and that joyous yet heart-wrenching relationship. Oliver, the non-POV character, is the one I find most poignant (at this stage, anyway--I've just begun the third section), and I'm dreading the story's conclusion. I know I'll be in tears.

There are still occasional bumps--some awkward constructions and jarring bits of dialogue and peculiar conceptualizing--but I'm nevertheless swept up in it.

What a treat this evening's been! I finished my WIP, and JLA and his son decided to go the races--the perfect confluence of circumstances. I just stretched out in bed and read and read ... and occasionally petted and talked to the dog and shoved snacks in my face. How lovely to be able to immerse myself in a book again, without a single distraction!

Kris said...

Your description is absolutely spot on with regard to the reader's journey with these books and these protags and... well, prepare yourself.

K. Z. Snow said...

Y'know, it's stories like this and Brokeback that make me appreciate the current crop of "optimistic" m/m fiction. Unresolved angst just chews and chews at me and makes me crazy! (I kid you not; it took me weeks to get over BbM.)

Tam said...

That's why I refuse to read books like that. I hate being depressed by something I read. I also find excessive navel gazing annoying as hell, in real life and in books. Get a grip, do something and stop lying around analyzing life. Hmm, I need those Nike swooshes, "just do it". Glad you enjoyed it more and your evening sounds delightful.

K. Z. Snow said...

Tam, this is turning into an incredible read, though--very intense and insightful. But, like a lot of "literary" fiction, it's kind of depressing.

Jeanne said...

But of course if it weren't depressing it wouldn't be literary.
Meanwhile we watched an uncut version of "Romancing the Stone" last week and absolutely loved it! This is the perfect romance movie: great hero, great heroine who grows from whiny to wow, fun villains, lots of action and a super romantic ending.

K. Z. Snow said...

Jeanne, if you like a rollicking good adventure-romance, this would not be the book for you! ;-)

Both heroes are Jewish, by the way, and although there's some pondering and discussion of this fact, it ultimately doesn't affect their relationship.