'Find Me' Book Excerpt: 'Call Me by Your Name' Sequel Revisits Elio and Oliver's Romance

Call Me By Your Name Still - Publicity - Embed 2018
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Call Me by Your Name features three songs by Stevens, two of which he wrote for the film.

In his follow-up novel, author Andre Aciman finds the beloved book (and film) characters decades after their summer love affair.

It's been 12 years since André Aciman published his acclaimed novel Call Me by Your Name, centered on a love story that came to life in Luca Guadagnino's adaptation of the same name starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet. The film went on to earn five Oscar nominations and boosted Aciman's book to the top of The New York Times' best-sellers list. 

In his follow-up Find Me, his fifth novel overall, Aciman revisits the beloved characters of Elio and Oliver, following them a decade after their summer love affair, when Elio is now a pianist, whereas Oliver is a professor. Samuel, Elio's father, embarks on an unexpected journey with Miranda, a woman he spontaneously meets aboard a train. In the second part of the book, readers are reintroduced to Elio, who begins a new relationship of his own. Then readers meet Oliver, who has returned to America, married a woman and started a family. The tale takes readers through Rome, Paris and New York as the characters' lives continue to intertwine in way they never expected it to. Are Elio and Oliver destined to continue their love story? Below, The Hollywood Reporter shares an excerpt. 

Elio was standing by the entrance of the hotel. We hugged, then after I released him he noticed that the person standing next to me was not a stranger who happened to be stepping out of the hotel at the same time as I was. Miranda right away extended her arm and they shook hands. "I’m Miranda," she said. "Elio," he replied. They both smiled at each other. "I’ve heard so much about you,” she said, “all he does is talk about you." He laughed. "He exaggerates, there’s so little to tell." As we walked out of the pebbled courtyard, Elio gave me a discreetly quizzical look that meant, Who is she? She intercepted the questioning glance, and said right away: "I’m the person he slept with after picking me up on the train yesterday." He laughed, though slightly uncomfortably. Then she added: "Had you been waiting for him at Termini yesterday I wouldn’t be standing here telling you this.”

"So which vigil shall we start with today?" asked Miranda, "or will it be a surprise?" Earlier that day I had explained to her that vigils were ritualized visits: in Elio’s and my case, Via Vittoria, Via Belsiana, Via del Babuino. They’re like the markers of our lives, I'd said, nicknamed vigils after the way pious people stop at various madonnelle — street shrines—to pay homage to the Madonna of the street. 

Caffè Sant’Eustachio was so crowded that we were unable to find a table and decided to drink our coffees at the bar. Elio added that in all the years he’d been coming here, he never once had a chance to sit down. Tourists spend hours occupying all the seats here, reading maps and guide books. He insisted on treating. While he slid between the throng of customers who were either waiting to order or to pay at the cashier, she sidled up to me and asked, "Do you think I shocked him?"

"Not at all."

"Do you think he minds I’m barging in?"

"I can’t see how. He’s been pestering me forever to find someone after my divorce."

"And have you found someone?"

"I think I have. She said she’d stay with me."

"Who’s going to stay with you?" asked Elio carrying a receipt and struggling to catch the attention of one of the men behind the espresso machines.

"She is."

"Have you told her what she’s getting into?"

"No. She’ll be horrified soon enough."

Seconds later three cups were placed on the counter in front of us. 

"A few years ago," said Elio, "this is where I had my first inkling of what my life as an artist living among artists would be like. My father and I come here each time he’s in Rome."

"And have your years as an artist been what you expected?" Miranda asked.

"I’m superstitious, so I should watch what I say," he replied, "but they’ve been very reassuring — my years as a pianist, that is. The rest, well, we don’t discuss the rest."

"And yet it’s the rest I want to know about," I said, catching myself almost echoing Miranda’s father. At this point, Miranda recognized that the conversation was veering to the personal and excused herself to look for the bathroom. 

"The rest, Dad," he went on, "is a closed book these days. But the first time I came here I was seventeen and I was with people who read a lot, loved poetry, were deeply involved in cinema, and knew all there is to know about classical music. They inducted me into their clan and every vacation I had from school and later from university I’d come to Rome to stay with them and learn as best I could about life in the arts."

I said nothing, but he caught the look in my eye.

"But more than my friendship with them you above everyone else made me who I am today. We never had secrets you and I, you know about me, and I know about you. In this I consider myself the luckiest son on earth. You taught me how to love — how to love books, music, beautiful ideas, people, pleasure, even myself.  Better yet you taught me that we have one life only and that time is always stacked against us. This much I know, young as I am. It’s just that I forget the lesson sometimes."

"Why are you telling me this?" I asked.

"Because I can see you now — not as my father, but as a man in love. I’ve never seen you like this. It makes me very happy, almost envious to see you.  You are so young suddenly. It must be love."

If it hadn’t occurred to me until then, I knew now that I was indeed the luckiest father alive. People, were milling around us, some trying to wedge their way to the counter. And yet none of them seemed to intrude on our intimate moment together.  We were having a quiet, fireside chat in one of Rome’s most bustling caffès. 

"Love is easy," I said. "It’s the courage to love and to trust that matters, and not all of us have both.  But what you may not know is that you taught me far more than I’ve taught you! These vigils, for instance, are perhaps nothing more than my desire to tread in your footsteps, to share with you anything and everything and be in your life as I always want you to be in mine. I’ve taught you how to earmark moments where time stops, but these moments mean very little unless they’re echoed in someone you love. Otherwise they stay in you and either fester all through your life or, if you’re lucky — and very few are — you’re able to pass them on in something called art, in your case music. But above all it was always your courage I envied, how you trusted your love for music and later your love for Oliver."

At that moment, Miranda was back among us and put her arm around me.  

"I never had that trust, either in my loves or, if you’d believe it, in my work," I continued, "but I found it almost inadvertently the moment this young lady invited me to lunch yesterday, while all I kept saying to her was, No thank you, no, I couldn’t possibly, no, no — But she didn’t believe me, and she didn’t let me coil back into my little conch."

I was glad we’d spoken. "As you said, we have never had secrets, you and I. I hope we never do."

We left Sant'Eustachio after quickly gulping our three sips of coffee each and were headed toward the Corso.

"So where to next?" asked Miranda.

"I want to take you somewhere I’ve never taken you before."

"Is this recent then?" I asked, hoping he’d let me in on his latest romance.

"Not recent at all. But it marks a moment where for a short while I held life in my hand and was never the same afterward. Sometimes I think that my life stopped here and will only restart here."

He seemed absorbed in thought. "I have no idea if Miranda is up for this and perhaps neither are you. But we’ve confided enough already not to stop now. So let me take you there. It’s just a two-minute walk away."

He stopped at a corner where a very old lamp was built into a wall. "I never told you this, Dad, but I was drunk out of my mind one night, I had just vomited by the Pasquino and couldn’t have been more dazed in my life yet here, as I leaned against this very wall, I knew, drunk as I was, that this, with Oliver holding me, was my life, that everything that had come beforehand with others was not even a rough sketch or the shadow of a draft of what was happening to me. And now ten years later, when I look at this wall under this old streetlamp, I am back with him and I swear to you, nothing has changed. In thirty, forty, fifty years I will feel no differently. I have met many women and more men in my life, but what is watermarked on this very wall overshadows everyone I’ve known. When I come to be here, I can be alone or with people, with the two of you for instance, but I am always with him. If I stood for an hour staring at this wall, I’d be with him for an hour. If I spoke to this wall, it would speak back."

"What would it say?" asked Miranda, totally taken in by the thought of Elio and the wall.

"What it would say? Simple: 'Look for me, find me.'"

"And what do you say?"

"I say the same thing. 'Look for me, find me.' And we’re both happy. Now you know."

"Maybe what you need is less pride and more courage. Pride is the nickname we give fear. You were afraid of nothing once. What happened?"

"You’re wrong about my courage," he said. "I’ve never even had the courage to call him, to write to him, much less to visit him. All I can do when I’m alone is whisper his name in the dark. But then I laugh at myself. I just pray I’ll never whisper it when I’m with someone else." 

Miranda and I were quiet. She went up to him and kissed him on the cheek. There was nothing to say.  

Excerpted from Find Me by André Aciman. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Copyright © 2019 by André Aciman. All rights reserved.