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:: Cor cordium / heart of hearts

Again I must say thanks to noeon for a fabulous book, this time for Call Me By Your Name. Packed with lush imagery, complex emotions, creative and supple language -- one of the most intense and vividly written love stories I've read in ages (doesn't hurt that it's set on the Italian Riviera!). Had to take it slow as all the emotion wore me out :)

Take this, for example, when Elio shows Oliver to his favorite little slope overlooking the sea (which, he says, is where Monet painted):

It never occurred to me that I had brought him here not just to show him my little world, but to ask my little world to let him in, so that the place where I came to be alone on summer afternoons would get to know him, judge him, see if he fitted in, take him in, so that I might come back here and remember.

Or this, two days after they've kissed for the first time, which closes with an unusual but stunningly apt metaphor for the permanent mark love leaves behind:

Oh Oliver, I said to myself...I'll do anything for you. I'll ride up the hill with you and I'll race you up the road to town, and...I'll wait at the bar in the piazzetta while you meet with your translator, and I'll touch the memorial to the unknown soldier who died on the Piave, and I won't utter a word, I'll show you the way to the bookstore, and we'll park our bikes outside the shop and go in together and leave together, and I promise, I promise, I promise, there will be no hint of Shelley or Monet, nor will I ever stoop to tell you that two nights ago you added an annual ring to my soul.

Or this, when Elio's father is speaking about the end of a love affair, the old man looking back on youth and passion:

You had a beautiful friendship. Maybe more than a friendship. And I envy you...if there is pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, don't snuff it out, don't be brutal with it. Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching others forget us sooner than we'd want to be forgotten is no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything -- what a waste!

The ending is perfection, the final paragraph a knockout.

One of the reviews calls the author "the grammarian of desire." Yup. He's like Anita Brookner, e.g. Hotel du Lac or Brief Lives: that same ability to precisely capture all the minute shadings of emotion -- fear, love, passion, desire, self-loathing, etc. Like those medieval miniatures, tiny jewel-like paintings with exquisite detail. *happy sigh*



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