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Call Me By Your Name author shuts down popular fan theory about Elio’s dad

Reiss Smith October 29, 2019
Elio and Sami in Call Me By Your Name

Elio and Sami in Call Me By Your Name. (YouTube)

As the eagerly-awaited Call Me By Your Name sequel Find Me hits bookshelves, author André Aciman has quashed a long-held fan theory about Elio’s dad.

Call Me By Your Name became an instant LGBT+ classic upon its release in 2007, with its 2017 film adaption bringing the tale of 17-year-old Elio and his 24-year-old lover Oliver to the masses.

Set in Italy in the summer on 1983, the film was nominated for best picture at the Oscars and is memorable for several key scenes, including a moving monologue that Elio’s father Sami (played by Michael Stuhlbarg) gives to his son (Timothée Chamalet).

After Oliver’s (Armie Hammer) summer stay with the family comes to an end, a bereft Elio is comforted by his father.

“You had a beautiful friendship,” Sami says.

“Maybe more than a friendship, and I envy you… I may have come close, but I never have what you two have. Something always held me back, or stood in the way. How you live your life is your business.”

Most fans took the exchange to mean that Sami had, like his son, loved another man, but had never been able to fully accept his sexuality.

But as Aciman returns to the characters in Find Me, he has revealed that he didn’t intend to make Elio’s father queer.

“Most people who have read the book have the same exact response,” he told GQ.

“‘I could have had what you had, but I never had it.’ And the boy asks, ‘Does mom know?’ At which point, everybody who has read the book infers, ‘Does mom know that I’ve had a relationship with Oliver?’

This was not at all my intention when I wrote the book.

“But because of the way the father speaks the scene in the film, when the boy asks, ‘Does mom know?’ it becomes automatically inferable that what he’s really meaning is, ‘Does mom know that you were attracted to men in the past?’

“This was not at all my intention when I wrote the book. The movie has basically validated that particular approach. And I have to say that I can see that this is equally a valid approach to the father’s speech.

“The father may have been attracted to men or not, we don’t know from the book. From the movie, you have every right to infer that. But not in the book.”

Find Me set years after Call My By Your Name.

Set more than a decade after the events of Call Me By Your Name, Find Me revisits Elio and Oliver as older men who, while both in relationships, haven’t let of the summer they spent together.

The book also features a lengthy vignette from Sami’s perspective, which Aciman said was the first part of the book to be written.

“I always knew I was going to do a sequel,” he told GQ.

“In fact, I attempted to write a sequel many times. One of the things that I used to do was: ‘Now, it’s Elio, he’s probably a couple of years older, and he’s in college, blah, blah, blah.’

“And it never worked for years. I kept trying and of course abandoning it every time, and this time something happened where I decided, well, I’m not going to start with Elio. I’m going to start with the father, and the father’s going to meet Elio, and Elio’s going to come at the very end of that chapter. And suddenly everything made sense.”

More: André Aciman, call me by your name, fan theories, find me

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