Nov 28, 2017

Call me by your name (3) --- our review


So, here, finally, is our review of Call Me by Your Name---André Aciman's book, not the new movie made from it.

Title & author

Most reviews of the book are fawning, and the few critical ones typically censure it for its not-so-happy ending---Aciman having apparently listened to his agent who told him that "the American public is not ready for a gay relationship that doesn't end in tears." Or he listened to his inner voice, which is Proustian by vocation (he's the director of the Proust Project at CUNY). Anyhow, this is not one of the books that "get stronger towards the ending," as a judge of the Booker Price once put it. But its finale is not the only issue here, so let's do a little bean-counting and separate our critical pluses ("+") and minuses ("-") accordingly.


(+) There's something unique about the combination of high fiction and graphic expressions of longing and desire in this book. Ignorami that we are---we do believe this combination hasn't occurred in world literature before. THIS MAKES THE BOOK STAND OUT.

No? Well, here, Elio, the narrator (on p. 8), just warming up: 
"I know desire when I see it---and yet, this time, it slipped by completely. I was going for the devious smile that would suddenly light up in Oliver's face each time he'd read my mind, when all I really wanted was skin, just skin."
Okay, you say, that's just an example of erotic literature done well (more examples on our Handsheet for the Erotic Writer). Ampersant could have done it if he'd be a better writer. But...but little Elio (aged 17), is really a paragon of high fiction; he's inconceivable in any other kind of literature. Here (p. 29 now, Elio conversing with Oliver):
"And yet here he was in his third week with us, asking me if I'd ever heard of Athanasius Kirchner, Giuseppe Belli, and Paul Celan.
'I have.' [Elio replies]."
A paragon of high fiction

(These are all writers, we suppose, because Paul Celan was one). Okay, let's try to find a better example. Next page:
"I was Glaucus and he [Oliver] was Diomedes."
Not good enough? Here, Elio daydreaming (p. 39):
"Did you [Oliver] know that I came in your mouth last night?"

(+) Elio is blessed to grow up in an intellectual Acadia of the 1980's. Father's a renowned professor of something, there's money, an understanding mother, Jewish heritage, and an understanding house keeper (who inspects the bed sheets each morning for stains). There's also a villa on the Italian Riviera with a tree-lined driveway, a pool, and a tennis court (one wonders, given the hilly, seaside topology of the place). And there's TALENT. E.g., Elio is a serious musical prodigy who improvises Busoni improvising Brahms improvising Mozart on the piano, much to Oliver's delight. And this Oliver (aged 24) has already finished his Ph.D. on Heraclitus and come over to supervise the Italian translation of his thesis (among other things).

And there's TALENT

Nov 25, 2017

Handsheet for the erotic writer --- Call me by your name (2) --- updated, reposted

So, the movie Call Me by Your Name is out this week to rave reviews. Most of them regrettably fail to mention that it's based on the homonymous novel by André Aciman, a book that became something of a cult-hit in the literate gay community since its appearance in 2007. We got hold of the title while writing the first part of the GREEN EYES, and read it with thieving expectations: lifting a few ideas, maybe, or at least a few turns of phrase from Aciman's oeuvre. And in preparation for doing so, we created this Handsheet for the Erotic Writer with steamy quotes from the book. Enjoy... 

(Click to enlarge)

Much to our regret, we never managed to lift anything of substance, but...the idea of the Handsheet took hold. And so, in THIS IS HEAVEN, the award-winning author Greta Wetten Dass---while recounting last night's erotic encounter with the ravishing John ("Ben") Fletcher---suddenly holds a Handsheet for the Erotic Writer in her hand...

Here's a fragment from Chapter 14, titled accordingly "Handsheet for the Erotic Writer"---Greta recounting, John and Alex listening/interrupting:



“And there we go. While Jane holds onto his shoulder, yours truly tugs at Ben’s trouser legs until the jeans come off. There’s the minor issue of the underwear proper, which is dispatched by a forthcoming sister in one swift gesticulation. She then buries—don’t blush—her nose in the loosened pouch of the garment.

‘Aah,’ she affects with a knowing voice. She hands the cloth to me. For the first time in my life do I sniff willingly and voraciously the scent of male hidden treasures, a scent so unbuttoned and rustic, so intimate and strong. A touch of Marquis de Sade gets involved.”

Nov 10, 2017

Sam Smith---Too Good At Goodbyes






You must think that I'm stupid
You must think that I'm a fool
You must think that I'm new to this
But I have seen this all before

I'm never gonna let you close to me
Even though you mean the most to me
'Cause every time I open up, it hurts
So I'm never gonna get too close to you
Even when I mean the most to you
In case you go and leave me in the dirt

Nov 9, 2017

Mot du jour




"Remember Whitewater, remember Benghazi? They could see a rerun on the fertile grounds of Trump's international financial involvements, including Russia and many other dodgy states, if the Democrats win the House in 2018."---Michael Ampersant

Nov 5, 2017

We have a bad day


It wasn't a great day today, but then they played Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" on Kiss FM, and the day got better. This is the official video. The sound is good, but the visuals are didactic. Worse, they have nothing to do with the lyrics, which are clever. And Daniel's "rival," who wins the visual show, looks like Trump's son in law. And now our internet connection problem is coming back, which appeared like being resolved for three days. Terrible. 





Where is the moment when we needed the most?
You kick up the leaves, and the magic is lost
They tell me your blue sky's faded to gray
They tell me your passion's gone away
And I don't need no carrying on

Stand in the line just to hit a new low
You're faking a smile with the coffee to go
You tell me your life's been way off line
You're falling to pieces every time
And I don't need no carrying on

Nov 1, 2017

Back home




The dogs of our neighbors, Chang, our hill, the "mont de Théoule," (still in the sun) and, in the background, "la baie des anges," (the Bay of Cannes)---the picture taken by Chang's Korean friend Kim (aka Alice, her German name; she lives in Hamburg).
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