Two great books

Last week I dove headfirst into a pair of great novels, one after the other.  Both were intimate, searing looks at love, relationships, and life.

call_me_by_your_name_cover

Call Me By Your Name is one of the most achingly beautiful books I have read in a while.  This love story unfolds over a few weeks of summer in Italy, and is poignant in ways I can’t quite find the words for.  We inhabit the head of the protagonist, inhabit the sleepy Italian villa, and at the same time we feel every dull throb of longing from every past desire in our own lives.  I read this in a night and a day, and was gripped from start to finish.  André Aciman’s prose is tender and desperate by turns, fleshing out a love that is somehow both fleeting and transcendent.  An exquisite read that will leave you thinking about love and life and the way each changes the other for years to come.

fates_and_furies_coverFates and Furies gripped me just as much, but in an entirely different way.  Like Call Me, I couldn’t put it down, and finished it in less than two days.  This novel, too, explores a relationship, this time between a husband and wife over the course of their marriage (and beyond).  I’m not even actually sure if I enjoyed it, per se, but it was an intense experience to see their relationship from both sides of the coin.  It was very thought-provoking, and I think I am still digesting it — I haven’t started another book yet for that very reason.  One takeaway from this novel for me is the fact I want to be known.  I want to feel understood and loved for me, not for a construct someone has in their mind.  And I don’t want to be left with an impotent rage over the paths my life has taken (or not).  But then on the other hand, can we ever really know another person, truly?  We inhabit this body in this life, and everyone else is relegated to observer by default.  How much can we know?  How much can we be known?  Lauren Groff’s style is very compelling, and once you wander into this Greek drama, you’ll want to stay and ponder long after the curtain closes.

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