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About the Author
André Aciman is the author of Eight White Nights, Out of Egypt, False Papers, Alibis, and Harvard Square, and the editor of The Proust Project (all published by FSG). He teaches comparative literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and lives with his wife in Manhattan.
Read an Excerpt
If Not Later, When?
“Later!” The word, the voice, the attitude.
I’d never heard anyone use “later” to say goodbye before. It sounded harsh, curt, and dismissive, spoken with the veiled indifference of people who may not care to see or hear from you again.
It is the first thing I remember about him, and I can hear it still today. Later!
I shut my eyes, say the word, and I’m back in Italy, so many years ago, walking down the tree-lined driveway, watching him step out of the cab, billowy blue shirt, wide-open collar, sunglasses, straw hat, skin everywhere. Suddenly he’s shaking my hand, handing me his backpack, removing his suitcase from the trunk of the cab, asking if my father is home.
It might have started right there and then: the shirt, the rolled-up sleeves, the rounded balls of his heels slipping in and out of his frayed espadrilles, eager to test the hot gravel path that led to our house, every stride already asking, Which way to the beach?
This summer’s houseguest. Another bore.
Then, almost without thinking, and with his back already turned to the car, he waves the back of his free hand and utters a careless Later! to another passenger in the car who has probably split the fare from the station. No name added, no jest to smooth out the ruffled leave-taking, nothing. His one-word send-off: brisk, bold, and blunted—take your pick, he couldn’t be bothered which.
You watch, I thought, this is how he’ll say goodbye to us when the time comes. With a gruff, slapdash Later!
Meanwhile, we’d have to put up with him for six long weeks.
I was thoroughly intimidated. Theunapproachable sort.
I could grow to like him, though. From rounded chin to rounded heel. Then, within days, I would learn to hate him.
This, the very person whose photo on the application form months earlier had leapt out with promises of instant affinities.
Taking in summer guests was my parents’ way of helping young academics revise a manuscript before publication. For six weeks each summer I’d have to vacate my bedroom and move one room down the corridor into a much smaller room that had once belonged to my grandfather. During the winter months, when we were away in the city, it became a part-time toolshed, storage room, and attic where rumor had it my grandfather, my namesake, still ground his teeth in his eternal sleep. Summer residents didn’t have to pay anything, were given the full run of the house, and could basically do anything they pleased, provided they spent an hour or so a day helping my father with his correspondence and assorted paperwork. They became part of the family, and after about fifteen years of doing this, we had gotten used to a shower of postcards and gift packages not only around Christmastime but all year long from people who were now totally devoted to our family and would go out of their way when they were in Europe to drop by B. for a day or two with their family and take a nostalgic tour of their old digs.
At meals there were frequently two or three other guests, sometimes neighbors or relatives, sometimes colleagues, lawyers, doctors, the rich and famous who’d drop by to see my father on their way to their own summer houses. Sometimes we’d even open our dining room to the occasional tourist couple who’d heard of the old villa and simply wanted to come by and take a peek and were totally enchanted when asked to eat with us and tell us all about themselves, while Mafalda, informed at the last minute, dished out her usual fare. My father, who was reserved and shy in private, loved nothing better than to have some precocious rising expert in a field keep the conversation going in a few languages while the hot summer sun, after a few glasses of rosatello, ushered in the unavoidable afternoon torpor. We named the task dinner drudgery—and, after a while, so did most of our six-week guests.
Maybe it started soon after his arrival during one of those grinding lunches when he sat next to me and it finally dawned on me that, despite a light tan acquired during his brief stay in Sicily earlier that summer, the color on the palms of his hands was the same as the pale, soft skin of his soles, of his throat, of the bottom of his forearms, which hadn’t really been exposed to much sun. Almost a light pink, as glistening and smooth as the underside of a lizard’s belly. Private, chaste, unfledged, like a blush on an athlete’s face or an instance of dawn on a stormy night. It told me things about him I never knew to ask.
It may have started during those endless hours after lunch when everybody lounged about in bathing suits inside and outside the house, bodies sprawled everywhere, killing time before someone finally suggested we head down to the rocks for a swim. Relatives, cousins, neighbors, friends, friends of friends, colleagues, or just about anyone who cared to knock at our gate and ask if they could use our tennis court—everyone was welcome to lounge and swim and eat and, if they stayed long enough, use the guesthouse.
Or perhaps it started on the beach. Or at the tennis court. Or during our first walk together on his very first day when I was asked to show him the house and its surrounding area and, one thing leading to the other, managed to take him past the very old forged-iron metal gate as far back as the endless empty lot in the hinterland toward the abandoned train tracks that used to connect B. to N. “Is there an abandoned station house somewhere?” he asked, looking through the trees under the scalding sun, probably trying to ask the right question of the owner’s son. “No, there was never a station house. The train simply stopped when you asked.” He was curious about the train; the rails seemed so narrow. It was a two-wagon train bearing the royal insignia, I explained. Gypsies lived in it now. They’d been living there ever since my mother used to summer here as a girl. The gypsies had hauled the two derailed cars farther inland. Did he want to see them? “Later. Maybe.” Polite indifference, as if he’d spotted my misplaced zeal to play up to him and was summarily pushing me away.
But it stung me.
Instead, he said he wanted to open an account in one of the banks in B., then pay a visit to his Italian translator, whom his Italian publisher had engaged for his book.
I decided to take him there by bike.
The conversation was no better on wheels than on foot. Along the way, we stopped for something to drink. The bar-tabaccheria was totally dark and empty. The owner was mopping the floor with a powerful ammonia solution. We stepped outside as soon as we could. A lonely blackbird, sitting in a Mediterranean pine, sang a few notes that were immediately drowned out by the rattle of the cicadas.
I took a long swill from a large bottle of mineral water, passed it to him, then drank from it again. I spilled some on my hand and rubbed my face with it, running my wet fingers through my hair. The water was insufficiently cold, not fizzy enough, leaving behind an unslaked likeness of thirst.
What did one do around here?
Nothing. Wait for summer to end.
What did one do in the winter, then?
I smiled at the answer I was about to give. He got the gist and said, “Don’t tell me: wait for summer to come, right?”
I liked having my mind read. He’d pick up on dinner drudgery sooner than those before him.
“Actually, in the winter the place gets very gray and dark. We come for Christmas. Otherwise it’s a ghost town.”
“And what else do you do here at Christmas besides roast chestnuts and drink eggnog?”
He was teasing. I offered the same smile as before. He understood, said nothing, we laughed.
He asked what I did. I played tennis. Swam. Went out at night. Jogged. Transcribed music. Read.
He said he jogged too. Early in the morning. Where did one jog around here? Along the promenade, mostly. I could show him if he wanted.
It hit me in the face just when I was starting to like him again: “Later, maybe.”
I had put reading last on my list, thinking that, with the willful, brazen attitude he’d displayed so far, reading would figure last on his. A few hours later, when I remembered that he had just finished writing a book on Heraclitus and that “reading” was probably not an insignificant part of his life, I realized that I needed to perform some clever backpedaling and let him know that my real interests lay right alongside his. What unsettled me, though, was not the fancy footwork needed to redeem myself. It was the unwelcome misgivings with which it finally dawned on me, both then and during our casual conversation by the train tracks, that I had all along, without seeming to, without even admitting it, already been trying—and failing—to win him over.
When I did offer—because all visitors loved the idea—to take him to San Giacomo and walk up to the very top of the belfry we nicknamed To-die-for, I should have known better than to just stand there without a comeback. I thought I’d bring him around simply by taking him up there and letting him take in the view of the town, the sea, eternity. But no. Later!
But it might have started way later than I think without my noticing anything at all. You see someone, but you don’t really see him, he’s in the wings. Or you notice him, but nothing clicks, nothing “catches,” and before you’re even aware of a presence, or of something troubling you, the six weeks that were offered you have almost passed and he’s either already gone or just about to leave, and you’re basically scrambling to come to terms with something, which, unbeknownst to you, has been brewing for weeks under your very nose and bears all the symptoms of what you’re forced to call I want. How couldn’t I have known, you ask? 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 his face each time he’d read my mind, when all I really wanted was skin, just skin.
At dinner on his third evening, I sensed that he was staring at me as I was explaining Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ, which I’d been transcribing. I was seventeen that year and, being the youngest at the table and the least likely to be listened to, I had developed the habit of smuggling as much information into the fewest possible words. I spoke fast, which gave people the impression that I was always flustered and muffling my words. After I had finished explaining my transcription, I became aware of the keenest glance coming from my left. It thrilled and flattered me; he was obviously interested—he liked me. It hadn’t been as difficult as all that, then. But when, after taking my time, I finally turned to face him and take in his glance, I met a cold and icy glare—something at once hostile and vitrified that bordered on cruelty.
It undid me completely. What had I done to deserve this? I wanted him to be kind to me again, to laugh with me as he had done just a few days earlier on the abandoned train tracks, or when I’d explained to him that same afternoon that B. was the only town in Italy where the corriera, the regional bus line, carrying Christ, whisked by without ever stopping. He had immediately laughed and recognized the veiled allusion to Carlo Levi’s book. I liked how our minds seemed to travel in parallel, how we instantly inferred what words the other was toying with but at the last moment held back.
He was going to be a difficult neighbor. Better stay away from him, I thought. To think that I had almost fallen for the skin of his hands, his chest, his feet that had never touched a rough surface in their existence—and his eyes, which, when their other, kinder gaze fell on you, came like the miracle of the Resurrection. You could never stare long enough but needed to keep staring to find out why you couldn’t.
I must have shot him a similarly wicked glance.
For two days our conversations came to a sudden halt.
On the long balcony that both our bedrooms shared, total avoidance: just a makeshift hello, good morning, nice weather, shallow chitchat.
Then, without explanation, things resumed.
Did I want to go jogging this morning? No, not really. Well, let’s swim, then.
Today, the pain, the stoking, the thrill of someone new, the promise of so much bliss hovering a fingertip away, the fumbling around people I might misread and don’t want to lose and must second-guess at every turn, the desperate cunning I bring to everyone I want and crave to be wanted by, the screens I put up as though between me and the world there were not just one but layers of rice-paper sliding doors, the urge to scramble and unscramble what was never really coded in the first place—all these started the summer Oliver came into our house. They are embossed on every song that was a hit that summer, in every novel I read during and after his stay, on anything from the smell of rosemary on hot days to the frantic rattle of the cicadas in the afternoon—smells and sounds I’d grown up with and known every year of my life until then but that had suddenly turned on me and acquired an inflection forever colored by the events of that summer.
Or perhaps it started after his first week, when I was thrilled to see he still remembered who I was, that he didn’t ignore me, and that, therefore, I could allow myself the luxury of passing him on my way to the garden and not having to pretend I was unaware of him. We jogged early on the first morning—all the way up to B. and back. Early the next morning we swam. Then, the day after, we jogged again. I liked racing by the milk delivery van when it was far from done with its rounds, or by the grocer and the baker as they were just getting ready for business, liked to run along the shore and the promenade when there wasn’t a soul about yet and our house seemed a distant mirage. I liked it when our feet were aligned, left with left, and struck the ground at the same time, leaving footprints on the shore that I wished to return to and, in secret, place my foot where his had left its mark.
This alternation of running and swimming was simply his “routine” in graduate school. Did he run on the Sabbath? I joked. He always exercised, even when he was sick; he’d exercise in bed if he had to. Even when he’d slept with someone new the night before, he said, he’d still head out for a jog early in the morning. The only time he didn’t exercise was when they operated on him. When I asked him what for, the answer I had promised never to incite in him came at me like the thwack of a jack-in-the-box wearing a baleful smirk. “Later.”
Perhaps he was out of breath and didn’t want to talk too much or just wanted to concentrate on his swimming or his running. Or perhaps it was his way of spurring me to do the same—totally harmless.
But there was something at once chilling and off-putting in the sudden distance that crept between us in the most unexpected moments. It was almost as though he were doing it on purpose; feeding me slack, and more slack, and then yanking away any semblance of fellowship.
The steely gaze always returned. One day, while I was practicing my guitar at what had become “my table” in the back garden by the pool and he was lying nearby on the grass, I recognized the gaze right away. He had been staring at me while I was focusing on the fingerboard, and when I suddenly raised my face to see if he liked what I was playing, there it was: cutting, cruel, like a glistening blade instantly retracted the moment its victim caught sight of it. He gave me a bland smile, as though to say, No point hiding it now.
Stay away from him.
He must have noticed I was shaken and in an effort to make it up to me began asking me questions about the guitar. I was too much on my guard to answer him with candor. Meanwhile, hearing me scramble for answers made him suspect that perhaps more was amiss than I was showing. “Don’t bother explaining. Just play it again.” But I thought you hated it. Hated it? Whatever gave you that idea? We argued back and forth. “Just play it, will you?” “The same one?” “The same one.”
I stood up and walked into the living room, leaving the large French windows open so that he might hear me play it on the piano. He followed me halfway and, leaning on the windows’ wooden frame, listened for a while.
“You changed it. It’s not the same. What did you do to it?”
“I just played it the way Liszt would have played it had he jimmied around with it.”
“Just play it again, please!”
I liked the way he feigned exasperation. So I started playing the piece again.
After a while: “I can’t believe you changed it again.”
“Well, not by much. This is just how Busoni would have played it if he had altered Liszt’s version.”
“Can’t you just play the Bach the way Bach wrote it?”
“But Bach never wrote it for guitar. He may not even have written it for the harpsichord. In fact, we’re not even sure it’s by Bach at all.”
“Forget I asked.”
“Okay, okay. No need to get so worked up,” I said. It was my turn to feign grudging acquiescence. “This is the Bach as transcribed by me without Busoni and Liszt. It’s a very young Bach and it’s dedicated to his brother.”
I knew exactly what phrase in the piece must have stirred him the first time, and each time I played it, I was sending it to him as a little gift, because it was really dedicated to him, as a token of something very beautiful in me that would take no genius to figure out and that urged me to throw in an extended cadenza. Just for him.
We were—and he must have recognized the signs long before I did—flirting.
Excerpted from Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman. Copyright © 2007 by André Aciman. Published in January 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.
Table of Contents
ContentsPart 1 If Not Later, When?,
Part 2 Monet's Berm,
Part 3 The San Clemente Syndrome,
Part 4 Ghost Spots,
What People are Saying About This
Call Me by Your Name is a beautiful and wise book, written with both lightness and concentrated care for the precise truth of every moment in its drama. It will rest artfully on the shelves between James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room and Edmund White's A Boy's Own Story. It is also a superb novel about the sensuous light of the Mediterranean summer, the languorous days and nights filled with desire. It has always been clear from Aciman's nonfiction that he would, when the time came, write a wonderful novel, but this is a miracle.
If you are prepared to take a hard punch in your gut, and like brave, acute, elated, naked, brutal, tender, humane, and beautiful prose, then you've come to the right place. If you can't handle the violence of the regret it will awaken in you, or the agony of remembering wanting someone more than you wanted anything in your life, or the exquisite suffering that comes with the gain, and loss, of something that neared perfect understanding, then don't read this book. Ditto if you like your literature censored. Otherwise, open the cover and let Aciman pull the pin from the grenade.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Not in a long time has a book affected me in such a way. When I stared this book, I loved the writing style and the description of Elio's world. But then I suddenly became attached to Elio. I felt what he felt. His fascination, his desires, his admiration, and after a while his love for Oliver. You feel as though you are there, sitting in the thick, warm atmosphere of an Italian Riviera, seeing every step of the blossoming relationship between Oliver and Elio. Yet always wondering what will happen when this guest finally has to leave?
The biggest surprise of this book is that Aciman describes the one thing that everyone in this world looks for and many do not find, total intimacy. Where two people become one unit, not just physically but emotionally. Where both people become each other. Even though I have finished the book, I still am looking at it, re-reading whole chapters just because this book has affected me in such a way.
Try this book, not only will it touch your heart but it will make you wonder and feel things that you haven't felt in a very, very long time.
If only we all could express who we were at 17 with such grace, honesty and lucidity.
What an amazing piece of work by such a masterful writer. As a gay man, it truly makes me appreciate the gay men that came before me and what they went through to get us where we are today. Tears were streaming down my face the entire last part of the book and if you get a chance to listen to the audio book it is even better. 5 stars and more if I could
I saw the movie before I read the book and I so enjoyed remembering the scenes while reading these beautiful words. I was so moved by the movie and felt the same about the book. I am not sure if I shed more tears reading or watching the movie. Such a heartbreaking beautiful love story.
This book was beautiful and enticing, it held me close and refused to let me go. Elio may not be the most reliable narrator but he's real and raw and he's full of flaws but also charming perfections. Spoilers Below I'm over here sobbing my eyes out, feeling what must be the pain Elio never truly expressed. I fell in love with this story and these characters and right now my heart truly aches. Love is so mysterious and people are so afraid of the truth. I wish more than anything that they could have lived and loved for their whole lives together as they deserved. I honestly don't understand how two people fully made to fit each other so perfectly could turn from it. It hurts that they found each other only to never have more than a month together. A life time of regret and longing and for what? I don't know. If you ever find someone you love this much do not let them leave so carelessly.
This book! Oh, this book! If you have ever fallen instantly, with every cell in your body, for someone, then you will read your own story in this book. There is no character named Elio; you are Elio and Oliver is your lover. Beware - you will re-live every detail of your affair - from the anxiety ridden beginning to the lust-fueled middle to the heart-wrenching end. You will find yourself staying up too late at night to read this book, and then staying up later still re-living the insanity that was your own romance. You will find yourself seeking out your current partner, just so you can close your eyes and pretend that your Oliver is once again touching you. And you will wish, you will wish, that you had thought to ask your lover to "Call Me By Your Name."
This book is, plainly and simply, an exquisitely-written love story that has haunted me long after I finished reading it. The story and characters touched my heart, and I found myself rereading excerpts and passages that were particularly beautiful. I highly recommend this book.
Lovely. heartbreaking. I feel like I didn’t know love until I read this book.
Aciman is a genius, and a master of conveying what it is almost impossible with words. Magical and simply "boulversant" . The movie is also just or equally profound and so beautifully moving. Everyone deserve to receive this memorable gift.
well i thought the book was written very differently than any other book i've read, so it pulled me in right away. but i'm not sure how i feel about it. elio's obsession sometimes creeped me out, but sometimes i related so well, because i've had the same emotions. it's one of those books where it feels like you're the only one who's read it and it's such an engrossing book that it feels like your life. it will also definitely stay with me for a long time.
The best book I've ever read, Aciman writes in a touching beautiful way, I felt what Eliot felt, I could listen to the cicadas, I could feel the warm Italian breeze over my skin. Now that I've finished the book, I miss Eliot, Oliver, Italy, and the beautiful words in Call me by your name. I found out that it is possible to call other person by your name, because you share a deep connection, and I realized that love goes beyond what I had thought. I would never forget this book, written in a really realistic way, describing carefully each feeling, each action, seducing you in each page, leaving you totally gasped with your heart beating tenderly. I have the fondest love for this unforgettable book, that will not rest on my mind, on the contrary my mind, my heart , myself will rest in the book, in the middle of that Italian summer for ever.
I do not think I have ever read such a beautiful masterpiece. This book leaves you aching for what must exist, and yet can only exist within the pages of fiction. There are innumerable quotes and passages that will touch your heart and leave you breathless.
This book was amazing! I suggest it to anyone who loves a good love story. If Oliver and Elio's characters were writen any differently it would'nt be as good as it was. It will definitely go on the bookshelf with my favorites!
A truly amazing novel. The author does a great job of building Oliver and Elio's relationship. Taking them slowly, and sometimes painfully, from friends to lovers. Aciman also does a magnificent job describing the sights sounds feelings emotions and everything you could possibly want to know. Brilliant! I was hooked from the beginning when we first meet Oliver, and couldn't put it down. Even when I started crying in the 4th and final part. A real tearjerker! Overall it's too good to be summed up in a review, it's definitely a must read!!
This novel has universal appeal. Both young and old, gays and straight people, and especially people who admire lovely prose, will find it irresistible. A novel as magnificent and gripping as this gets published only once in a blue moon. This novel will grip your mind at the very beginning, and the witty, charming voice of its narrator, seventeen years old Elio, will lead you through the wondrous tunnel of human emotions such as desire, passion and lust, in search of the elusive and slippery love. The story is about young Elio¿s intense infatuation with the handsome American, twenty-four years old Oliver, a post-doctoral scholar and author, who comes as a house-guest to stay for six weeks at Elio¿s villa in the Italian Riviera. Elio is well-read and talented. He can sing, and play guitar and piano, too. Both men like to jog and play tennis. They love to swim and they flirt on the beach and indulge in witty dialogue. The author, Andre Acimen, succeeds in creating an illusion that the two young men make a perfect pair - a match made in heaven. But nothing in this world is perfect, of course, and nothing lasts for ever. And there lies the tension and the aches and pains a reader feels, and the torment one suffers while reading this novel. If you ever had crush on someone when you were a teenager, reading this novel will bring out the long dormant memories to the surface, and you will feel the sweet aches and experience the torments again, like new. Perhaps you will also feel an overwhelming desire to read some passages again, only to marvel at the glittering prose, at sentences of extraordinary beauty and elegance. Here is Elio¿s reflection on his jogging with Oliver on the beach: ¿I liked it when our feet were aligned, left with left, and struck the ground at the same time, leaving footprints on the shore that I wished to return to and, in secret, place my foot where his had left its mark.¿ If you are young at heart, you will easily empathize with Elio and feel all his emotions, and if you are very old at heart, and thought your heart petrified so long ago that it was incapable of feeling desire, passion, lust and love, you will be utterly astonished to hear your heart begin to sing a few notes again. And you most certainly will witness the alchemy of Andre Aciman¿s poetic prose slowly transmuting the baser human emotions of passion and lust into precious and divine love. Reading this novel will touch and warm your heart.
This book is AMAZING!!!! If you haven't seen the movie, read this book first because it gives you a lot more insight into their emotions than the movie does (though both are beautiful). I would recommend this book to anyone I know. Seriously my favorite book to date. BUY IT NOW!!!!!!!!!
This is such a wonderful book. Although it rips your heart out, it is so well written and so evocative of it's setting, Italy, that although I've never been there, I could see and smell it. By the end of the book, I felt as if I knew these characters, and exactly what they looked like. This book is absolutely worth your time.
A story about humans, about hearts, written as beautifully as poetry.
Haunting, sad, nostalgic, beautiful, romantic, lovely, and heartbreaking. An amazing exploration of pure love between vulnerable souls.
Seventeen year old Elio falls in love with his father's summer graduate student assistant, Oliver, while occasionally sleeping with neighbor girl Marzia. Oliver is hot and cold with him by turns, and Elio is left anguished and unable to express his feelings.At least half the book is taken up with Elio's frustration, and while it brings back memories of being a tongue-tied teen, it gets tedious at times. Finally, three weeks before Oliver is due to leave, the two confess their feelings for each other and the action picks up.Older teens may have the patience for the slow action.
What is the difference between the lover and beloved, the watcher and the one watched? In his story of Eros and education Andre Aciman considers these questions and demonstrates the answers. With emphasis on the erotic, he has created a seeming Proustian meditation on time and desire, a love letter, an invocation in words that one must call simply "beautiful". His novel, Call Me by Your Name, is a wonderful tale whose dream-like qualities continually evoke the narrator's obscure object of desire which is, by definition, inexpiable, and indeterminate. For the details of the story I recommend you read the book, not because it is banal but rather because it is too beautiful to risk spoiling.This book constantly reminded me that it was fiction - the product of an imagination able to create an unreal dream world - yet I did not mind because it was simply, joyously readable. I was both entranced and intrigued by the narrator, whose name is withheld for much of the novel, but this is because, as the title implies, he is entranced and intrigued himself by his family's summer guest, Oliver, who seems to be nothing less than a Greek god. The subtle allusions to poetry and philosophy, the music of the senses, add to the magnificence of this short novel. Perhaps it will not effect everyone the same as it did me, but for those who appreciate the classical source of beauty this is a novel that ranks with Mann and Gide in its glistening presence.
Ahhh, l'amour, l'amour. What a beautiful mid-winter's read, set in the Italian mediterranean. Bittersweet, bittersweet, that I'll never be so young, sensate and callous again. Well done.
I went to a reading by Andre Aciman the other day. I had enjoyed a couple of his essays but hadn't known he also wrote fiction. The day my husband checked out this book from the library, I stole a look at the first few pages before, then stole the book. I'm amazed to see this depth of interiority so well sustained. 'Call Me By Your Name' is by turns gripping, seductive, and unbearably tender. It's even a little maddening--as it should be. After all, it is a story of intimacy.
A love story equal parts passion (of the most immediate, knee-knocking variety) and elegy. Fruits having sex and fruit (a peach!) used in sex. I thought the novel could have done without the extended coda, but i was still very moved by it.