Excerpts from André Aciman discussing Find Me, the sequel to Call Me By Your Name. The event was on November 11, 2019, hosted by the Harvard Book Store at the Brattle Theater.
Aciman is very fluent, charming, and sort of artfully self-deprecating.
On being back in Harvard Square, where he was previously a Ph.D. student in Comparative Literature; on nostalgia and the past
On familiar Harvard locations: “…many of which have disappeared, which is what happens when time goes by … many of which have good memories attached, many more of which have bad. If you have been a grad student, you know what I mean.”
“A nosteme is the smallest possible unit of return.” [The etymology of nostalgia is, nóst(os), a return home + algia, pain.]
“[Nostalgia] doesn’t mean that you are not excited about what the future will bring, but it does mean that you can find satisfaction in trying to call back that past. You may not be successful in bringing it back, but you can call it. … The past is always there.”
“Summons up the past and reappraises it or resituates it in the present”
Does he have a spot like Elio and Oliver’s? “There’s a wall, and it is not far from here. I went there this morning, and it still spoke to me. It happened 40 years ago, and the anniversary is coming up because it was in November.”
Civilization and Its Discontents – things built on ruins – “I think this is exactly how identity works… I don’t believe we have a core.”
“I have never had one identity. I have never been one thing.”
Egypt has lost its memory of its Jewish/multiethnic community. “We are rebuilding the Jewish temple, we want you back.” – Egyptian ambassador attempting to woo Aciman back to Alexandria