The book, summer & myself: Was it a summer fling?
As summer was picking up in late March of 2021, sitting on a corner seat of The All American Diner, I started reading ‘Call me by your name.’ ‘Later’, that’s how the book starts. The author invests two pages to elaborate the possible casualness of that word, and how it means farewell in a disinterested manner, from Elio point of view. Who is Elio? One of the two protagonists. Our narrator.
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Me and ‘Call me by your name!’
I am not a fan of reading popular literature. And, if there is a movie based on the book, I either watch the film or read the book. Preferably the book. If it was on me, I would have never picked up this book. I hated the book by the title itself. So cringeworthy!
Before the book, I had seen the film. There was so much hype around the film and Timothee Chalamet, the new heartthrob. I remember watching the film and was underwhelmed by it. Let’s say, wasn’t crazy about it. Year later, while scrolling through Instagram, I saw a post that talked about how the book ‘Call me by your name’ glorified paedophilia. Here I was reading about the book again, this time with disgust. I didn’t know how to assess that post because I haven’t read the book and desires, who has ever understood them. People were sharing that post on their stories, and affirming to that belief that it indeed glorified paedophilia. As all such debates diminish with time, this one did too.
And years later, my friends randomly chooses to read ‘Call me by your name’, and falls in the love with the book. Then she insists that I should read it too. For reasons better known to the past Rajeev, I said yes. Since the first page, I have changed my perception of popular literature, and now I actively look to read them. Once, I was done with the book a lot of other references from life started to made sense to me. Eventually, the title started to make so much sense to me. The last paragraph of the book is so overwhelmingly amazeballs. Beautiful indeed.
The film was third in the series by director Luca Guadagnino to present Italy as a country of desire, and love. “I Am Love” (2009) and “A Bigger Splash” (2015) being the other two. The director, to me, captured the nuances of Italy’s everyday life in its naturalistic texture and beauty. The movie was full not so subtle colours, with less vibrance & saturation, blending into each other beautifully. Possibly, it was one of the few films where I could notice the usage of colours other than the Wes Anderson cinema.
The music by Sufian Stevens is something to look out for in the film. It is so beautifully used and compliments the narrative so well. Surprisingly, the movie is written by 92-year old James Ivory. For which he won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. That devastating ending was the highlights of my first-time watch of the film. The camera pulls into a close-up of Elio’s face (Timothee), the orangish-yellow colour of the flame light up a side of his face, and then tears wreak you. Such vulnerability.
Coincidently, I was reading this during the scorching summers of Delhi. Sometimes, I fail to understand was it love or just a summer fling. Italy’s summer, orchid, references to desire, and statues, the uncertainty of want, makes it more like a love that you know is nothing more than just a short-term quest. Like a work of passion. I don’t know for what reasons, but they are. The desires are more directly associated with lust, than love. Whatever persisted between Elio, and Oliver can be just a summer fling. Would I like to believe that? No, never.
PS: During my research to write, and understanding André Aciman, I read a few of his other works about loss, exile, etc. The reader might wanna try them as well. He has had an interesting time exploration such emotions and starts an interesting conversation in the reader’s mind.