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Eight White Nights by André Aciman
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Eight White Nights (2010)

by André Aciman

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Oh, this. I just don't know what to do with this novel. It is either a brilliant exploration of falling in love or the most pretentious piece of twaddle ever printed on paper. And I can't decide. The first person narrator (if we ever learn his name, I missed it among all his belly-button gazing and soul-searching and angsting) meets a woman named Clara at a Christmas party and is immediately taken by her. They subsequently spend parts of the next eight days together (neither, apparently, has to work at all during the week between Christmas and New Year's--perhaps I missed why, perhaps they are just that lovely and lucky), and the novel explores, in minute detail, what the narrator feels and thinks throughout this time.

There are moments in Eight White Nights when I love what Aciman is doing. I sometimes love the way he slows down scenes, giving space to thoughts, actions, and interactions that normally get glossed over in fiction. I admire the way he can show us the complexities of what the narrator feels and how those complexities can be complicated further by wanting to understand the object of his affection but failing to do so. But at the same time, I was often (more often than not, I would say) impatient with the novel, impatient with the characters, impatient, particularly with the narrator. I muttered, "Oh jeez" to myself a lot while reading this, and rolled my eyes not infrequently.

I am willing to sit still for a long love story, a love story which is about why these two people fell in love, which revels in the particulars of those whys and wherefores--if it's done well. But Eight White Nights too often fails to make me care about those particulars, too often asks me to invest in pages upon pages of interiority without infusing the narrator with the kind of spark that will make me root for him or even feel like I really know him. And that made the novel feel more like a slog than the the exploration it should have been. ( )
1 vote lycomayflower | Jan 21, 2012 |
This is a strange but somehow captivating book. The characters seem to be very odd, overly complex and highly neurotic. The story takes place in New York City and details the relationship of two people who engage in an angst filled pas de deux for eight days. I had a really hard time starting this book but as the characters developed it became somewhat more interesting, although I found myself often wanting something just to happen! Aciman's writing style is very different from what I have read before; he is very elaborate in his descriptions and can be somewhat rambling. I have heard good things about his earlier book, "Call Me By Your Name" but this book is not a stand out in my opinion. ( )
  JMC400m | Oct 20, 2010 |
I would have liked to read this aloud, it was so beautifully written. And it wasn't just the writing - it's astounding to me the way Aciman can write dialogue that so perfectly captures the subtleties of the bantering conversation that occurs when two people are falling in love, and yet terrified of falling in love and admitting it and losing love. The book is almost claustrophobic in the way it takes place almost entirely within the developing relationship, in the snow of eight nights in Manhattan. I found myself wanting to shake first her, for her manipulativeness, and then him, for his fear, and both of them for not just falling into bed and getting it over with, which of course never happened. A very frustrating, amazing book in which not much and everything happened.

Not for the impatient reader. ( )
  bobbieharv | May 3, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374228426, Hardcover)

A LUSHLY ROMANTIC NOVEL FROM THE AUTHOR OF CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

Eight White Nights
is an unforgettable journey through that enchanted terrain where passion and fear and the sheer craving to ask for love and to show love can forever alter who we are. A man in his late twenties goes to a large Christmas party in Manhattan where a woman introduces herself with three words: “I am Clara.” Over the following seven days, they meet every evening at the same cinema. Overwhelmed yet cautious, he treads softly and won’t hazard a move. The tension between them builds gradually, marked by ambivalence, hope, and distrust. As André Aciman explores their emotions with uncompromising accuracy and sensuous prose, they move both closer together and farther apart, culminating on New Year’s Eve in a final scene charged with magic and the promise of renewal.

Call Me by Your Name, Aciman’s debut novel, established him as one of the finest writers of our time, an expert at the most sultry depictions of longing and desire. As The Washington Post Book World wrote, “The beauty of Aciman’s writing and the purity of his passions should place this extraordinary first novel within the canon of great romantic love stories for everyone.”

Aciman’s piercing and romantic new novel is a brilliant performance from a master prose stylist.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:40 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A man in his late twenties goes to a large Christmas party in Manhattan where a woman introduces herself with three words: "I am Clara." Over the following seven days, they meet every evening at the same cinema. Overwhelmed yet cautious, he treads softly and won't hazard a move. The tension between them builds gradually, marked by ambivalence, hope, and distrust. They move both closer together and farther apart, culminating on New Year's Eve in a final scene charged with magic and the promise of renewal.… (more)

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