Eight White Nights

Andre Aciman, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $26 (360p) ISBN 978-0-374-22842-2

This feverish novel from the author of Call Me by Your Name takes a microscope to a torrid romance–cum–battle of the sexes between two 20-something New Yorkers. Clara Brunschvicg and the unnamed narrator meet at a swank Christmas Eve party and immediately jockey for position. The ensuing grappling plays out over the course of the seven nights between that party and New Year's Eve. The motor that makes this dual character portrait hum is the narrator's uncertainty about sardonic beauty Clara's murky intentions. Aciman knows these types well, filling their romance with coffees, wealthy friends in Hudson County, and Rohmer film festivals, and he concocts ever more complex scenarios to dramatize the tension and uncertainty. This smart book is rich with the details of how skittish lovers interact. Aciman creates a private vernacular for the two while rarely failing to miss a telling smile or let so much as a line of dialogue go wasted. At times the narrator's wordiness drags—particularly when he intersperses the play-by-play of an intense moment with an extended analysis of the scene—but, mostly, the novel is taut and entirely authentic. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/23/2009
Release date: 02/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
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