Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman | Book Review

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Book: Call Me By Your Name

Authors: André Aciman

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Pages: 248 Pages

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchased from Amazon

Links to Purchase:  Amazon CABook Depository, Chapters Indigo

Please Note: I know this book is the subject of controversy. I'm aware of it. I don't have the energy to discuss the controversy, especially since most of the controversy is being perpetrated by people who haven't read the book. If you don't like the book, feel free to chat with me about it, but don't come for me if you haven't read it, or just want to attack people. Thanks.

Andre Aciman's 'Call Me by Your Name' is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents' cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, when, during the restless summer weeks, unrelenting currents of obsession, fascination, and desire intensify their passion and test the charged ground between them. Recklessly, the two verge toward the one thing both fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy. It is an instant classic and one of the great love stories of our time.

This is one of the cases where I saw the movie before I read the book. Honestly, had it not been nominated for a few Oscars, I never would have heard about this book. But I'm so glad I did. This book has shattered me. It has broken my heart and sewed it back together, and broken it again. I cannot begin to explain or express the beauty of this book. But I'm writing a review, so I'm going to at least try. 

The narration of this book is what struck me so hard. Written almost in hindsight, Elio is looking back on his time as a teenager, and looking at the relationship he had with Oliver. The voice is mature enough to give weight and understanding to everything that is being said, but also young enough to express the wordlessness that comes with his first real love. I was expecting the voice of this novel to be a lot younger, and almost immature, but I got the opposite. The balance in the narration, between young pettiness, and adult comprehension of the complex emotions was so beautiful. 

This was also the most atmospheric book I've read in a really long time. There was something about the writing that inspired hot, humid, Italian days. It felt like I knew exactly what the air smelt like, and knew what the sun felt like. Which is pretty intense since I've never been to Italy. It sets a perfect landscape that is as warm and romantic as it is historic, but also brand new. I cannot describe the experience of reading this book and fully encapsulate it. It was breathtaking, totally immersive, and I was consumed by it.

The novel is very physical. It details a relationship that is as physical as it is romantic. But the content never crosses into gratuitous. On the line between erotic and intimate, it never veers too far one way or the other. This book isn't erotica, and the physicality and sexuality aren't unnecessarily added. Each scene, whether physical or not, adds to the overall story and meaning.

The relationship, it has to be said, is the highlight of the book. Before the romantic relationship or the physical relationship begins, the way Aciman describes their friendship, and how Elio's longing factors into it, was so interesting, and blew me away. And once Elio and Oliver's relationship became more defined, my heart kept on breaking and mending, over and over again, while reading about them. I knew how the story would end, and I knew that their relationship was not destined for longevity, but every stolen moment that was described was as equally heart warming as it was heart breaking.

The last thing I want to talk about is Mr. Perlman's speech at the end. The scene in the movie properly broke me, but honestly? Reading it was a completely different experience. What he was saying, about not letting grief emotionally bankrupting oneself. "But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything -- what a waste!" He says to Elio, telling him to let himself feel the things he feels. In a book narrated by a character who is so obsessed with the idea of shame, and being a sick person, this moment of "you're not shameful, and you're not sick" in the face of love, was so beautiful. I cannot get over this section.

I cannot stop thinking about this book. The entire time I was reading it, I had a pen in my hand, underlining line after line, because of how beautiful it is. There are some passages that I just cannot get out of my head, and some scenes that have really shaken me. Saying I loved this book is not enough of a compliment to it. This is such an outlier, as not many books achieve the status of 'untouchable' in the way that this one has. I loved it.

5/5 Stars.

Waiting On Wednesday | Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Waiting On Wednesday was created by Jill at Breaking the Spine

Bringing this back to the blog! Summer and early fall releases are always the ones that I'm most excited about, and this one is no exception. Practical magic meets the Bone Gap? I cannot wait for this one, and by reading the summary, and seeing the stunning cover, I bet you can tell why!

Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno
Release Date: June 5th 2018 | 272 Pages | Published by HarperTeen | Goodreads Link
Preorder on:

Practical Magic meets Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls and Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap in this lush, atmospheric new novel by acclaimed author Katrina Leno.

A magic passed down through generations. An island where strange things happen. A summer that will become legend.

Georgina Fernweh waits impatiently for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has touched every woman in her family. But with her eighteenth birthday looming, Georgina fears her gift will never come.

Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, falling in love, and the mystery behind one rare three-hundred-year-old bird—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.

In Summer of Salt, Katrina Leno weaves another gorgeously original novel of magical realism and coming-of-age. Fans of April Genevieve Tucholke and Anna-Marie McLemore will be swept away.

Link me to your WoW posts in the comments, and I'll be sure to check them out! Thanks for reading!

My Favourite Plays

Friday, 11 May 2018

Theatre is a huge part of my life, and it's also an incredibly expensive part of my life. Reading plays is also super fun because I get to be the director, dramaturg, casting director, and everything else. I get to see the most ideal production ever in my mind. Basically I love theatre and I love plays. So I wanted to share some of my favourite plays.

Angels in America by Tony Kushner
Nick Hern Books | 290 Pages | Goodreads Link
Favourite Production: National Theatre

Angels in America by Tony Kushner is a fucking epic. The first time I read it, I finished it and immediately turned back to page one and started over. The interactions between characters, the long winding monologues, the intensity of the emotion, and the magical realism element. Everything in this play is turned up to 11, but it doesn't overwhelm in a bad way. While I like Perestroika (part 2) more than Millenium Approaches (part 1), they create this spectacular story together. It's the most stunning kalidoscope of huge themes, beautifully complex characters, and just so much emotion. I cannot think about this play without being confronted by these huge, immortal themes, but ultimately feeling utterly safe. The play ends with Prior Walter wishing the audience "more life". And this play, that deals with religion, death, politics, the AIDS crisis, love, loss, and life. And while all this has the potential to crush you under the weight of the topics, the play ultimately makes me feel weightless. You can read my full review here.

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

This is my favourite Shakespeare play, hands down. I love Midsummer, and I love the craziness around it. The four lovers at the center of it are amazing, and the players are some of my favourite parts. But I will say, this play is nothing without Puck. I had a Shakespeare professor dress up as Puck one year for halloween when I was in his class, and jump into the classroom and break into his first speech. It was amazing, and just the magic and almost hallucinatory effect this play has makes it one of my favourites.

Angels in America by Tony Kushner
Theatre Communication's Group | 77 Pages | Goodreads Link
Favourite Production: Broadway Production (Recorded for PBS Great Performances)

So I just recently read Indecent by Paula Vogel, and wow. This play shows a really solid and beautiful mastery on words and language. The play, telling the story of the Sholem Asch play, God of Vengeance, and the obscenity trial it faced, takes place in multiple countries, in multiple languages, over a huge span of time. There are 7 actors and a few musicians, taking on so many roles, and all of it is done seamlessly. It's such a great example of theatrical ingenuity and reading it is such a fascinating experience, and one that really got me in the feels.

Gertrude and Alice by Anna Chatterton and Evalyn Perry
Playwrights Canada Press | 73 Pages | Goodreads Link
Original Production: Buddies in Bad Times

I just read this, a few weeks ago, but I can't get it out of my head. I'm such a sucker for anything Beat Generation, and this play is no exception. I really loved the portrayal of both of these women, and the way that the text was combined with things the actual Gertrude and Alice said and wrote made everything more raw and real. I just wrote my review on this, which you can read here, so I won't waffle on about this one too much longer.

Peter and Alice by John Logan
Oberon Modern Plays | 70 Pages | Goodreads Link

Another play with Alice in the title. But a very different Alice this time. John Logan's play is an imagining about what would happen if Peter Llewelyn-Davis, the real Peter Pan, and Alice Liddell, the real Alice in Wonderland, were to have met. What would their conversation look like. In what starts as realism, and slowly toes the line of surrealism, the play features figments of their imagination. Alice (in Wonderland) and Peter (Pan) join their real life counterparts on stage, making their very intense conversation a little more real, as they face the fictionalized versions of their childhood selves. It's such an interesting play, and if you can get your hands on it, I recommend it.

Dr.Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
Favourite Production: Globe Theatre Production

I love Kit Marlowe. Marlowe is a legend. A spy, a playwright, a notable queer man during Renaissance England? What a lad. And Faustus is one of his great works. The story of Faustus, who sells his soul to the devil for knowledge, isn't a new one, but no one's done it like Marlowe. The entire play is one sexually fueled, competitive seduction between Faustus and Mephistopheles, the demon sent to him, until the finale, where the play takes a sharp turn to become a morality piece. It's such an interesting piece, and in my opinion, a little more accessible than some of Shakespeare's works. If you're going to read a play from the Early Modern period, read this one.  

I hope I've given you a good summer reading list for plays, and share with my what plays you think I'd enjoy, or ones that I'm missing out on! I'll probably do another one of these for my favourite musicals, so keep your eyes out for that! Thanks for reading!

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera | Book Review

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Book: They Both Die at the End

Authors: Adam Silvera

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 368 Pages

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased from Chapters

Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

So first of all, yes I read the title. Yes, I understood what I was getting myself into my starting this book. No, I was not prepared for how attached I got to these characters and how  emotional I would be when they died. I don't know why, though, as I cry at a good meal, so it should have been no surprise to me as to why I found myself in tears.

This was the first book by Adam Silvera that I had read, and now I get the hype. They Both Die at the End came with a truly unique reading experience. The concept of DeathCast, or life before DeathCast was never really explained, but I loved the mystery of it. I was happy to just be dropped into this world, ready to hit the ground running. Since everything happens in such a short period of time, and because there is this weird, death corporation ready to call you at any moment, I found my belief was easily suspended, I could focus on these characters, and the lives they were leading.

The one thing that threw me off quite a bit were the different perspectives. I'm not usually a fan of multi perspective novels that have more than 2 characters narrating, and the jumping in of different people kind of gave me whiplash. I wasn't a huge fan of the jumping back and forth. The story about the journalist was interesting, but ultimately, I didn't think it fit. I kind of want a book all about her, but everytime the narration cut to someone else, I was just counting the pages until I could get back to Mateo and Rufus.

I want to be best friends with these boys. Like, I want to hang out with them and watch movies and order pizza. That's how real they are in my mind. Rufus' loyalty, and Mateo's need to leave the world better than he found it really plucked my heartstrings, and their love for one another was so organic, even with the time frame.

After reading this, I want to sit down with Adam Silvera and just talk about the politics and limitations of this world, because I found myself asking so many questions. There are a few comments about Deckers who find out they're going to die, and then they commit suicide. But my question is, would they have committed it if they hadn't got the call? In what ways is DeathCast predicting the effect that they have on society, and how they, as a corporation, could possibly be the cause of these deaths? I don't want to spoil anything, but it seems that DeathCast is the cause of a lot of these deaths, and by being aware of the fact that they could die is what is causing them to do just that. It's so complicated, and cool, and I might have had a bit of an existential crisis while reading it. But who's to say?

Overall, if Adam's other work is like this one, I will definitely be picking up more. While I found some issues with narrative styles, it was fast paced, and filled with characters that seem more real than not. I am really glad I read it.
4.5/5 stars.

Happy Reading!