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Swann's Way
Marcel Proust, Lydia Davis
Norman Rush
The Unknown University
Roberto Bolaño, Laura Healy
Postmodern Belief: American Literature and Religion since 1960 (20/21)
Amy Hungerford
The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays
James Wood
Call Me by Your Name - André Aciman Aciman takes a privileged young man (Elio, age 17) who resides in a household of intellectual abundance, and lets him narrate his own story of coming of age and coming to love. At once peevish and peculiar, vulgar and verbose, precocious and pretentious, Elio’s story—every thought and emotion, every slight and every erection—is laid bare for the reader. Aciman walks a fine line revealing a young narrator who is carnal, caring, and confused and brings him to an adulthood as complex as his youth, and he does it all in a voice one can believe is Elio’s own. He does not reveal the answer to every question. He doesn’t wrap everything up with tidy endings that make us all feel good. Readers never know as much about Elio’s love interest (Oliver) as they know about Elio, and that’s as it should be—it is Elio’s story, not the story of a couple. With Call Me by Your Name, Aciman takes a place alongside Jamie O’Neill (At Swim, Two Boys), Edmund White, Thomas Mann, etc., and he distinguishes himself from Gordon Merrick, Rita Mae Brown, and other writers of popular gay fiction who have contented themselves with a ‘really good story.’

Gay Literature is not, and never will be, simply another way of saying ‘gay fiction.’ Literary Fiction is not, and never will be, simply fiction. Readers who begin a literary title, expecting Dan Brown or Danielle Steel, are very likely to be disappointed—they may cast it aside unfinished, they may write it off as ‘boring,’ they may consider the author ‘unskilled’ or ‘flowery’ or ‘stupid’ or decide that he or she just doesn’t ‘make sense.’ It seems all too often a disappointed reader will post a mindless review, give it the inevitable one star, and in doing so, insult every reader who found the same literary work remarkable. It just never seems to occur to some readers, often avid readers who seem to think reading says something about themselves, that they have simply picked up the wrong book. Readers of a certain age, perhaps, will recognize the one-word, one-star for what it is—the hit-and-run equivalent of ‘it’s got a good beat, but you can’t dance to it.’