Since October 2017, the fictional queer worlds of Elio and Oliver from Call Me By Your Name have held pride of place as my own most personal and cultural touchstones.
Back then, eager to watch the film, yet unable upon Chios’ cinematic wasteland, I plugged into headphones and let Arnie Hammer’s recitation of the book wash over my ears.
Aciman’s book is a first-person narration - a sort of diary - from the perspective of Elio, a 17-year old prodigy who falls in love with the older Oliver over the course of a long, Bacchanalian summer. But in this gorgeous fiction of languid masculinity, osmotic identity and erotic self-questioning, the acoustic indulgence of Hammer’s voice as Elio’s own made it nigh impossible for me, lying warm-blooded under a Chian sun, to decide whose life was closer to my own.
Thus it was that I opened the pages to Aciman’s sequel, Find Me, in early January just as one steps into a labyrinthine maze whose centre is the soul and where the only signposts are existential queries posed to oneself.
Find Me, at first glance, may appear a rehashing of Call Me By Your Name. A cheap offering to a dedicated fan world, enamoured by its unattainable love. Yet it is not.
For Find Me is more akin to music than to paper, ink and glue. It is one of literature’s most astounding works of fugal intricacy, where themes are transposed, translated and transformed into sublime keys and consonant harmonies that scintillate the reading mind.
Harmonically it is familiar, composed upon three staves of socially illicit love, and it plays these according to the rules of both lyric ode and apologia. That is, it romanticises narrative so as to better narrativise romance. And in doing so, performs a contribution towards a more open society.
Find Me is a celebration of love. It is unabashed in its religiosity of true love. In its narrative journey, we always arrive where we expect to; where we desire to; where we deserve to.
And here we may rest, warmed by a literary sun of amorous myth, metamorphosed to our times.