Tag Archives: unrequited love

Enigma Variations by André Aciman

51L-bsaKRML Title: Enigma Variations
Author: André Aciman
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 978-0374148430
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

I remember when I first read “Call Me by Your Name” by André Aciman and couldn’t stop crying. The book touched me in places I didn’t even know existed within me. The love of a teenager and an older man had me by the gut and for the longest time I couldn’t stop recommending it to people. Actually, I still do. Good books must always be read by all, even if it means just most people, but read it must be for sure. And for a while after I didn’t read anything by Aciman, till “Enigma Variations” was sent to me and I couldn’t help myself.

You cannot expect “Enigma Variations” to be like “Call Me by Your Name” but the writing is for sure similar (the same author of course) and that is what keeps the reader going. This novel charts the life of a man named Paul – whose loves remain as overpowering and passionate throughout his adulthood as they were during adolescence. With this book Aciman has sealed himself as being one of my favourite authors for sure. This book is that powerful and lyrical.

“Enigma Variations” is about Paul of course, but it is also about the people he falls in love with – both women and men. The setting could be Southern Italy, where as a boy he had a crush on his parents’ cabinetmaker (reminded me so much of Call Me by Your Name) or it could be a snowbound campus in New England where he falls hard for a girl and meets her over and over again, or it could also be his nefarious one-night stands with men who he will never meet, or New York’s sidewalks and cafés and more – the bottom line is that Aciman makes his characters yearn, gives them raw desire and emotions and leaves them to grapple with it. At no point did I get bored with the book. In fact, if anything I just didn’t want the book to end.

It felt like I was Paul and it was my life playing itself out in front of me. Aciman’s language casts a spell – through his words and situations he maps corners of desire that were most mysterious and out of reach. His characters are human. They make mistakes. They cry. They hurt. They also want and they also waver from the wanting. They are indecisive and it is alright for them to be this way. Paul takes account of all his fears, hopes, desires and still wants love in his life.

To me that is of paramount significance – after being such enigmas to our own selves, we finally discover what it is that we really want. Aciman plays on everyday emotions and scenes. At no point as a reader you will feel strongly disconnected from the plot. It is almost like he is chronicling what you might have gone through once a upon a time. Aciman understands emotions intricately and is not shy of putting them out like an open wound.

Book Review: Lovers like you and I by Minakshi Thakur

Lóvers like You and I by Minakshi Thakur Title: Lovers like You and I
Author: Minakshi Thakur
Publisher: Harper Collins India
ISBN: 9789351160298
Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction
Pages: 224
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

“Lovers like you and I” by Minakshi Thakur was just another book that I came across at the book store at the Jaipur Literature Festival. I looked at it and the cover did not impress me at all. At that time for sure I was judging the book by its cover; however I realized that the proverb was just proved right in this case. The book was more and beyond the cover. It was a treat to read.

The book is set in Delhi, in the nineties – a different world. A world of possibilities of life and the chance that love would come true. The book explores various aspects of love through the eyes of young Nayan.

Nayan’s journey from that of a girl to a woman is full of questions, emotions, strange answers, life, its longing, despair and interspersed in all of this, are her men and relationships. Salil is the one who is constantly walking in and out of her life – with poetry and backpacking. The one who cannot stay. The one who cannot be held down.

Salil and Nayan’s relationship reminded me of innocence. It reminded me of how it is to love without expecting and yet there is this window open for it to seep through, unexpectedly. For me, “Lovers like you and I” was so much more than just a love story. I am sure the writer also wanted it to be a lot more than just that and that reflects throughout the writing.

“Lovers like you and I” is an ode to time gone by, to love and its ways of the past, to how it was meant to be with poetry mingled, with unrequited love just hanging there, in between and life just passing by, intermingling with space and ennui.

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Haruki Murakami and Sputnik Sweeheart

So I was all of 21 when I first read, “Sputnik Sweetheart” by Murakami and yes like any other 21 year-old who reads of love, I was blown away. Literally. My mind was in pieces and my heart was trying hard to decipher the writing on the wall. I came out to my folks when I was nineteen, but I guess my coming out was realized to myself when I finished reading, “Sputnik Sweetheart” and not because of the same-sex love overtones in the book. It went at a level deeper than that and I knew it. This post is dedicated to my favourite writer in the whole wide word: Haruki Murakami and his writing.

Sputnik Sweetheart was an eye-opener in almost every sense of the word – the writing was simple and yet tugged at the heart and mind strings to a very large extent. I remember savouring the book, wanting to drown myself in the words and was so apprehensive that it would get over soon. After all it was only 224 pages long and honestly I wanted it to go on and on.

What is the book about you ask? Well, its about Sumire – a 21 year old aspiring writer who is not lesbian and yet somewhere down the line falls in love with another woman. The narrator is Sumire’s friend who loves her. Sumire’s love is Miu who does not love her, at least not the way Sumire does and there starts the disappearance of Sumire and its consequences. It seems a simple story. It is not. Here are some quotes from it. My favourite ones:

“And it came to me then. That we were wonderful traveling companions but in the end no more than lonely lumps of metal in their own separate orbits. From far off they look like beautiful shooting stars, but in reality they’re nothing more than prisons, where each of us is locked up alone, going nowhere. When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we’d be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing.”

“The answer is dreams. Dreaming on and on. Entering the world of dreams and never coming out. Living in dreams for the rest of time.”

“Why do people have to be this lonely? What’s the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?”

“So that’s how we live our lives. No matter how deep and fatal the loss, no matter how important the thing that’s stolen from us–that’s snatched right out of our hands–even if we are left completely changed, with only the outer layer of skin from before, we continue to play out our lives this way, in silence. We draw ever nearer to the end of our allotted span of time, bidding it farewell as it trails off behind. Repeating, often adroitly, the endless deeds of the everyday. Leaving behind a feeling of immeasurable emptiness.”

See what I mean! Its unrequited love all the way and may be that’s why I love it so much. I do not know how to end this post. All I know is that for me, Sputnik Sweetheart will always hold that special place in my heart.