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Literature / Call Me by Your Name

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"Is it better to speak or to die?"
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Call Me by Your Name is a 2007 novel by André Aciman.

In the summer of 1987, seventeen-year-old Elio Perlman and his parents accept American academic Oliver as a guest in their house along the Italian Riviera. Elio deals with his burgeoning attraction to the carefree, charismatic, intelligent Oliver, who he doubts reciprocates his feelings, and comes of age in the process.

The book was adapted into a 2017 film directed by Luca Guadagnino, starring Timothée Chalamet as Elio and Armie Hammer as Oliver.

Inspired by the success of the film, Aciman revealed he was writing a sequel to the book in December 2018, later announced to be titled Find Me for an October 2019 release. Set some time after the original, it follows Elio's (recently divorced) father Samuel as he visits his son in Rome —now a classical pianist— and experiences major changes to his own life, while Oliver (now a father and professor) is contemplating a return to Europe himself.

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This novel contains examples of:

  • Adorably Precocious Child: Vimini, who is a perky, intelligent, mature child despite her leukemia and well-loved by the other characters.
  • Age-Gap Romance: The mid-twenties Oliver with Elio and Chiara, who are both teenagers. It's implied that nothing physical happened with the latter, though, although she did have a big crush on him.
  • Bi the Way: Both Elio and Oliver are attracted to women as well as each other.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The book ends with Elio and Oliver consummating their passion far too late in the summer, and Oliver leaves and abruptly marries some months later. Contact between Elio and Oliver falters and cools, and even decades later, Elio never moves on from Oliver and is even jealous of the latter's wife and children. Both Vimini and Elio's father die, and his mother becomes senile and suspicious. Oliver also eventually forgets their game of calling each other by their own names, which depresses Elio, though in the book's last meeting, Oliver claims he hasn't forgotten anything, which Elio hopes is true. The only thing keeping it from a straight Downer Ending is the memories and passion that the couple shared is worth the heartbreak that follows.
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  • Disposable Love Interest: Both Chiara and Marzia for Oliver and Elio respectively. They cease to serve significant roles once Elio and Oliver act on their feelings.
  • Fast Forward to Reunion: The book ends with Elio and Oliver separating at the end of the summer and meeting again in America many years later, with Oliver marrying and having children in the interim while Elio never quite moved on from him.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: Elio has difficulty moving on from Oliver, despite spending decades apart.
  • Gilligan Cut: After Elio nearly has sex with Marzia, he promises not to tell anyone about it. In the very next scene, he announces it at the kitchen table, partly to try to make Oliver jealous.
  • Ill Girl: Vimini is suffering from leukemia which she eventually succumbs to.
  • Informed Judaism: The Jewish characters are nonobservant and are, as one character puts it, "Jews of discretion." The reader knows that they are Jewish either from their wearing stars of David or simply from their say-so.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Oliver and Vimini become fast friends despite an age difference of over ten years; Elio never begrudges this pure, heartwarming, and close friendship. After Oliver leaves, Vimini writes to Oliver every single day until her death.
  • Lecherous Licking: Elio licks Oliver's eyelid at one point.
  • Nosebleed: Oliver's teasing gives Elio a massive nosebleed during a meal, which drips into his food.
  • Old Flame: Elio's feelings persist even years later, after Oliver has married and had children.
  • Queer Romance: The two romantic leads are bisexual men.
  • Scenery Porn: Aciman describes the Italian countryside in lush detail.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Downplayed. Elio does display attraction to people besides Oliver, but is most passionate around him and never really moves on from him, even decades later.
  • Time Skip: The ending. Elio and Oliver meet in their thirties, with Elio never quite moving on from him.
  • Title Drop: Elio and Oliver make a little game out of calling each other by their name.
    "Call me by your name and I'll call you by mine."

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