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Andr Aciman attended our gay book club last night As in, it was me, seven other readers, and Dr Aciman in a small circle of chairs I got my book signed It was a treat.Knowing my experience with Call Me By Your Name, I shouldn t have read this one last minute Aciman s writing has a way of irritating me that requires distance before I have a complete opinion Because his speciality is detailing the infinite vacillations of thought and desire And it digs in so close to the damn truth It s u Andr Aciman attended our gay book club last night As in, it was me, seven other readers, and Dr Aciman in a small circle of chairs I got my book signed It was a treat.Knowing my experience with Call Me By Your Name, I shouldn t have read this one last minute Aciman s writing has a way of irritating me that requires distance before I have a complete opinion Because his speciality is detailing the infinite vacillations of thought and desire And it digs in so close to the damn truth It s unsettlingly sharp, transparent yet opaque, annoying and illuminating.Structurally, I like the choice of separate stories in Enigma Variations I was initially unsure if each was a cohesive part of a larger whole though, spoiler, they are So the small novellas are like different selves we inhabit in life, the changed versions of us through time What we desire at 22 is vastly different than at 42.Aciman turns in a great work centered on a bisexual man experiencing relationships not by gender but by pure connection and desire I wish we d chattedlast night about the bisexual representation there s plenty to be mined regarding a bisexual character unable to choose what he wants I would argue Aciman instead treats his character like he does so many others of differing sexualities In fact, last night he offhandedly suggested we each experience varying sexualities throughout our lifetime Which I quite like.Ultimately, Enigma Variations is about want How we want things we can t have, and how desire evolves when we actually get those things It s another winner for Aciman There was an emotional detachedness to the novel for me Never once did I feel any sort of deep connection to the protagonist, which left me feeling listless the whole way through I guess I expectedsomething along the lines of the sweeping romanticism and longing of Aciman s first novel but expectations and reality didn t coalesce.Paul is a frustrating MC His romantic contradictions and incessant whining threw me off completely At first, I was bored with him Part 1 was a grueling tru There was an emotional detachedness to the novel for me Never once did I feel any sort of deep connection to the protagonist, which left me feeling listless the whole way through I guess I expectedsomething along the lines of the sweeping romanticism and longing of Aciman s first novel but expectations and reality didn t coalesce.Paul is a frustrating MC His romantic contradictions and incessant whining threw me off completely At first, I was bored with him Part 1 was a grueling trudge of first love infatuation At 12, he thinks it s the end all be all with Nanni He pined and pined some, and complained and whined when his feelings didn t turn into how he expected Older, still, he holds fast to this deep, irrational line of thought He s still feeling himself out, though , I told myself So, I let it slide And then Part 2 was a lesson in patience, because Paul s irrational paranoia over his girlfriend and her alleged adultery, is justcause for him to complain and think himself freed His ber pretentious friends and dinner conversations also didn t help me connect in a positive way I just wanted these well to do New Yorkers to shut the fuck up and be real for once Part 3 comes along, and Paul has grown into quite the walking contradiction, and fallen so thoroughly for someone else while he and they are both with someone else He s back to longing from afar, and Aciman makes it seem like THIS is the quintessential love of Paul s life The story felt like it could be picking up at this point Our aggravating protagonist has finally settled That is, until we arrive at Part 4, and all of Paul s feelings are oncelike, Wait, no, I love this person now I always have It s too much.I ve never been in love let alone multiple times, like Paul I do fall for many often, and love them each in my own way, but I m not IN anything So, I can t necessarily speak to jumping from one extreme infatuation to the next And it annoyed me Aciman made each particular lover sound like theONE , and that s just ridiculous to me falling so madly for one person, and then years later another and another and another Paul so casually flits from caring so deeply for this man, and then his relationship with this woman is wonderful, but that man over there is surely his soulmate oh, and couldn t she and I have something, too but of course no after years his TRUE soulmate comes back, and he wants her now, but that can t last, no And then times goes until he finds someone else to obsess over It reminds me of that song by Hozier, Someone New , the lyrics go I fall in love just a little, oh, a little bit every day with someone new But in Paul s case, it s not remotely a little bit I don t get it Maybe I never will.Part 5 finally slogged in, but by then, I was totally indifferent to the story Again, Paul s pretensions put me off Of course, he s so very cultured and intelligent, and everyone he meets falls for, are also the type of people that, in my experience, are vaguely condescending and untouchable on a social level I doubt I could ever tolerate them for very long not to say that I m a moron No I think I m well educated and quite a bit the polymath, and can hold a conversation as to the ones expressed herein But everyone in this novel they re so very grandiloquent in the sense that they never seem to spend any time with people outside of their posh, la di da circles.Paul is searching for himself to understand Constantly, in fact, until well past his quarter life But here s the thing he s a fucking douche about it Paul s a cheater, plain and simple, and he doesn t seem to have any qualms with infidelity or cuckolding And he uses his bisexuality to excuse himself although, never explicitly and his lifelong self discovery He gives the B in LGBTQ a bad name The little twist if you want to call it that at the very end, surprised me, but infuriated me It made me hate Paulthan I already had.I didn t find much to say in a positive regard to this book, but what little good there was came again from how, when you least expect it, Andr Aciman perfectly captures the crucial, seemingly insignificant little moments in a life Whether it be longing to hold a hand, or touch another s cheek, or the ways in which we wait and regret and break our own hearts he can really spin feelings to pull you in I was caught off guard a few times with how well he writes.I shouldn t compare this novel to Aciman s other work, but where I appreciated the isolation and dreamy slowness of Call Me By Your Name, in which the love felt self contained in a bubble of hazy romanticism, Enigma Variations took that and made a mockery of it Where Call Me By Your Name s pseudo pretensions felt unaffected and appropriate, Enigma Variations came off gaudy and superficial, and in the end, so did the love I forgot to mention onething when I wrote this this morning PLEASE TAKE A LOOK AT LARRY S review Its wonderful and he was my inspiration for reading this We make assumptions about how our lives are being charted without knowing that we are making these assumptions which is the beauty of assumptions they anchor us without the slightest clue that what we re doing is trusting that nothing changes We believe that the street we live on will remain the same and bear it s name forev I forgot to mention onething when I wrote this this morning PLEASE TAKE A LOOK AT LARRY S review Its wonderful and he was my inspiration for reading this We make assumptions about how our lives are being charted without knowing that we are making these assumptions which is the beauty of assumptions they anchor us without the slightest clue that what we re doing is trusting that nothing changes We believe that the street we live on will remain the same and bear it s name forever We believe that our friends will stay our friends, and that those we love we ll forever We trust and, by dint, of trusting, forget we trusted This entire novel linked stories scintillates with brilliant fragility It zings with fresh insights about the big themes relating to love and inspired writing Seductive character driven universal feelings in a tangible deeply intimate way Rare truly a work of art Kinda phenomenal Oneexcerpt Wood is unforgiving A painter, even a great painter, can change his mind midway or paint over a serious mistake But you can t undo a mistake on wood You need to understand how wood thinks, how wood speaks, and what each sound it means Wood, like very, very few living things never die One might have thought he was Michelangelo speaking about marble My response is decidedly enigmatic Like Call Me By Your Name, this is a book that cries out for rereading No stars for now My response is decidedly enigmatic Like Call Me By Your Name, this is a book that cries out for rereading No stars for now I live for this And if this is all there is, well, this is all there is No one understands and communicates the myriad desires and agonies of the human heart quite like Andre Aciman This series of five connected stories follows the life and loves of a bisexual man named Paul from adolescence to middle age There s the cabinetmaker, his first love his tennis partner, with whom it takes him two years to make a move the college sweetheart who he reunites with every four years but never for lo I live for this And if this is all there is, well, this is all there is No one understands and communicates the myriad desires and agonies of the human heart quite like Andre Aciman This series of five connected stories follows the life and loves of a bisexual man named Paul from adolescence to middle age There s the cabinetmaker, his first love his tennis partner, with whom it takes him two years to make a move the college sweetheart who he reunites with every four years but never for longer than a weekend Aciman s speciality is transient, fleeting love those passionate and intense relationships that may or not sustain their fervor if given the chance.Paul spends his life chasing the highs of new love, always yearning for something , longing to drink the wine of life at last and not realizing that maybe he has been all along Like Call Me By Your Name, Enigma Variations is intimate, analytical, sensual and infused with weighty nostalgia There are little revelations throughout concerning side characters that are just as poignant as Paul s own character arc these remind us that love is similarly perplexing and agonizing for everyone In Aciman s world, sorrow and pain are just as integral to the human experience as love and happiness There s comfort in this conviction, since the former are unavoidable Aciman transforms these challenging human emotions into something beautiful and true and edifying This book blew me away, in a way I was not expecting It is told in five vignettes stories, all which took unexpected turns But these were not shocking story twists that would get old, but surprising moves by characters that ended up feelingrealistic than most writing The characters get to be complicated Sexuality is not black and white, nor is fidelity or even hope There are statements about the longevity of love and connection, the realities of how some people only work in the short This book blew me away, in a way I was not expecting It is told in five vignettes stories, all which took unexpected turns But these were not shocking story twists that would get old, but surprising moves by characters that ended up feelingrealistic than most writing The characters get to be complicated Sexuality is not black and white, nor is fidelity or even hope There are statements about the longevity of love and connection, the realities of how some people only work in the short term or in the imagination, and how we can accept people even when their flaws won t change I had a review copy so can t type up the bits I marked, but I will be recommending this one to others in 2017 Somehow I was unaware of the author but I see he has quite a catalog, so I will be looking intoof the titles I am a huge fan of Aciman, but this just did not work for me The strongest section is the first there is little to tie the five together, so this is really just a loosely bound collection of disparate novellas Plus the fact that the central protagonist is so reprehensibly louche and dissolute that I had not the slightest ounce of empathy at his plight of being unable to find love Moral of the story a dick is a dick. The homosexual desire here was so muchconvincing than the heterosexual desire, I was surprised to find the author is straight Thus the last two chapters didn t work for me at all, although you need to get to the last page to find out something which I suppose is important Aciman s writing is very nice but he has a tendency to overuse similes and create aphorisms that trickle on for a long paragraph. 2.8 reluctant, conflicted, disappointing stars The Most est Disappointing Read of 2017 Award I really struggled with much of this book.Mr Aciman is an immensely talented writer but has great difficulty in distillation as well as writing a story that I care very much about His writing is occasionally profound and moving butoften is overwrought, adolescent, saccharine and at times very dull and or crass.The protagonist is one of the most self centred, miserable, selfish, sonofabitch 2.8 reluctant, conflicted, disappointing stars The Most est Disappointing Read of 2017 Award I really struggled with much of this book.Mr Aciman is an immensely talented writer but has great difficulty in distillation as well as writing a story that I care very much about His writing is occasionally profound and moving butoften is overwrought, adolescent, saccharine and at times very dull and or crass.The protagonist is one of the most self centred, miserable, selfish, sonofabitches in modern literature He offers nothng to anybody and wants to take and suck the life and love of everybody he meets He reminds me of the main character in Andre Gide s The Immoralist but in that book the villain s selfish debauchery, cheating and self delusion is couched in meaning for the reader This book glorifies the suffering of somebody who has absolutely nothing to suffer about This is vile and painful and a waste of time We are seduced by beautiful language and lamenting and yet all I want to do is shake this parasite who feels he is entitled to destroy everybody in his amorous wake He is the type of narcissist that women want to heal and men want to take care of until they become shells or fall into these malignant patterns themselves Paul the protagonist is handsome, intelligent, fairly affluent, well spoken, fashionable, talented, erudite, and healthy A fine specimen of the top 1 percent and yet all he does is suffer and often cause others to suffer by his suffering, selfishness and dark poetic ambivalent soul He is absolutely insufferable The type of man that every woman has fallen for at least once in her life and either regretted it at best or become emotionally destitute.Having said this there were two stories I quite liked and I will list the stories, their ratings and just a brief phrase of my impression First Love3.5 stars.very good writing with moments of profound beauty but much of it was extraneous and grating.much too long for what it is Spring Fever..2.5 stars insipid, trite, self indulgent but with some interesting observationsManfred.2.5..Drawn out agony..Narcissus see his reflection and falls in lust Star Love.3.5 starsBeautiful, meanderingso glad I am back to some profundity although Paul remains the most selfish of twats Abingdon Square.2 stars.if there was a sixth story of Paul s insufferable drivel I may have had to commit hari kari.I think the following would be twoapt titles for this book The Pinings, Whinings, Laments and at best Musings of a Bisexual Malcontent or Even the Psychoanalyst got Irritated `Download ☠ Enigma Variations ⇲ A passionate portrait of love s contradictory power, in five illuminating storiesAndre Aciman, who has been called the most exciting new fiction writer of the twenty first century New York Magazine , has written a novel in Enigma Variations that charts the life of Paul whose loves remain as consuming and covetous throughout adulthood as they were in adolescence Whether in southern Italy, where as a boy he has a crush on his parents cabinet maker, or on a snowbound campus in New England, where his enduring passion for a girl he ll meet again and again over the years is punctuated by anonymous encounters with men on a tennis court in Central Park, or a sidewalk in early spring New York, his attachments are ungraspable, transient and forever underwritten by raw desire not for just one person s body but, inevitably, for someone else s as well In mapping the most inscrutable corners of desire, Aciman proves to be an unsparing reader of the human psyche and a master stylist of contemporary literature With language at once lyrical, bare knuckled, and unabashedly candid, he casts a sensuous, shimmering light over each facet of desire to probe how we ache, want, and waver, and ultimately how we sometimes falter and let go of those who may want only to offer what we crave from them Behind every step the hero takes, his hopes, denials, fears, and regrets are always ready to lay their traps Yet the dream of love always casts its luminous halo We may not always know what we want We may remain enigmas to ourselves and others But sooner or later we discover who we ve always known we were