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Friday Musings: Virtuoso

Friday Musings: Virtuoso

As some of you may recall, I am a huge fan of the 2018 movie Call Me By Your Name and actually wrote a post about it back in March of 2018 that was entitled I Remember Everything, arguably the film’s most well-known line. A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of the book, which I’d had on my reading list since I’d seen the movie. How I wish I’d read it sooner. It was fabulous! One of the issues I often have with movies that are based on books written in the first person is that we tend to lack the information we need to fully understand the emotional depth of their stories. In the movie Call Me By Your Name, we are given glimpses into what Elio is feeling, but only through hesitant dialogue and yearning looks. For example, there is a part early on in the film when Elio plays a song on the guitar that catches Oliver’s attention. Oliver wants him to play it again, and Elio eventually obliges, but he does so on the piano, making it sound very different. It’s not what Oliver was hoping for. There’s an exasperated exchange between the two characters, and eventually Elio plays what Oliver wants to hear. The relevance of this scene is hard to understand in the movie, but in the book, it becomes a moment that is highly portentous. The back-and-forth between the two characters happens in much the same way, but later that night when Elio is writing in his diary, we learn how much he is struggling with understanding Oliver’s moods, which range from ice to sunshine, and the extent to which he finds his own equally inscrutable. He concludes the entry by saying, “We are not written for one instrument alone; I am not, neither are you.”

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Friday Musings: Perfect Fall

Friday Musings: Perfect Fall

Last week I decided to reread Ghostwritten, one of my favorite books by David Mitchell. If you’ve never experienced his work, you absolutely should. Very soon. This particular novel was his first, and although it has always been highly praised for a level of complexity and finesse not often found in debut fiction, the one fault expressed by critics was that it was considerably reminiscent of books written by the Japanese author, Haruki Murakami. Because I love Murakami, I’ve read a fair amount of his writing and could certainly see how the comparison was fair, but rather than dissuade me from reading Mitchell, just the opposite occurred. I have been a fan ever since. Ghostwritten is a collection of interwoven narratives placed in many different settings that are linked together in a way that creates a very satisfying puzzle with the just the right level of challenge. In the second chapter, two characters are having a conversation in a Tokyo record store when one of them looks wistfully out the window and says, “The last of the cherry blossom. On the tree, it turns ever more perfect. And when it’s perfect, it falls. And then of course once it hits the ground it gets all mushed up. So it’s only absolutely perfect when it’s falling through the air, this way and that, for the briefest time…” Mitchell’s language is extremely simple here, and the concept he is expressing is equally comprehensible, but something about these lines gave me pause, and I found myself wanting to think about their deeper meaning a whole lot more.

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