Sunday, May 8, 2011

Eight White Nights by Andre Aciman

An overarticulate young man and overarticulate young woman discover they are soul mates.

I liked this book much more than  "Call Me By Your Name", even though this book was probably twice as annoying. Once again, the stakes are too low, the narrator is a question mark, the girl, the love object, is highly precious and an emotional sadist. Don't these kids have jobs? Clara is sketchily described as beautiful but all she eats are massive mounds of muffins and French fries. But I just couldn’t put the book down. The subject is romantic love.

The first twenty pages were difficult to get through, but then I relaxed and let the exquisite sentences wash over me. Our narrator is a nervous Nellie who is so terrified of screwing things up he never advances. This story is not so much about sex, in fact it’s not about sex at all – it’s about recognizing your soul mate. Clara and her Prinz Oskar, highly educated New Yorkers, enjoying themselves in modern day Manhattan. Because of the tragedy of Nazism long ago, these two are exiles from their true home of Europe.

Is love a delusion? What is the evolutionary purpose of romantic love? Clara becomes an obsession with him and he with her. And sometimes the novel degenerates into a fascinating study of telephone tag.

This was one I read on the plane so I had more patience, perhaps more patience than this deserved. I was really entranced.

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