by André Aciman
I could not put this book down. I started it after work one evening and finished late that night. It cast a spell of tension, longing, desire—all of which were left unresolved for so many pages, with hints every now and then to spur the reader on.
There was a lot of restraint in the telling: a seventeen year old boy falling in love for the first time could have been, well, Twilight without the vampires. But this story was far from an emotional indulgence squeezed generously from a tube of saccharine icing. Most of the telling is in the frustration and uncertainty of the the young boy: is he mad? does he really want the thing he believes he desires? Is there reciprocation? How can he break the ice with this aloof object of his affection?
There were many ways, however, in which the book was indulgent. Our hero is hyper intellectual, a piano virtuoso. His love interest is likewise intelligent, a grad student working fervently on a thesis about Heraclitus. The uncanniness of the ready excuse for allusion and heady talk was easy to overlook with a view of enjoying the story, but it often felt as if these devices sufficed to say “their desire for each other is not your typical summer romance.” In fact, their desire was as animal and desperate as other romances, even those including seventeen-year-olds.
If you’re looking for a short, light easy read, full of passion and reservation, this one fits the bill.