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A passionate portrait of love’s contradictory power, in five illuminating stories
Andre Aciman, who has been called “the most exciting new fiction writer of the twenty-first century” (New York Magazine), has written a novel in Enigma Variations that charts the life of Paul whose loves remain as consuming and covetous throughout adulthood as they were in adolescence. Whether in southern Italy, where as a boy he has a crush on his parents’ cabinet maker, or on a snowbound campus in New England, where his enduring passion for a girl he’ll meet again and again over the years is punctuated by anonymous encounters with men; on a tennis court in Central Park, or a sidewalk in early spring New York, his attachments are ungraspable, transient and forever underwritten by raw desire—not for just one person’s body but, inevitably, for someone else’s as well. In mapping the most inscrutable corners of desire, Aciman proves to be an unsparing reader of the human psyche and a master stylist of contemporary literature. With language at once lyrical, bare-knuckled, and unabashedly candid, he casts a sensuous, shimmering light over each facet of desire to probe how we ache, want, and waver, and ultimately how we sometimes falter and let go of those who may want only to offer what we crave from them. Behind every step the hero takes, his hopes, denials, fears, and regrets are always ready to lay their traps. Yet the dream of love always casts its luminous halo. We may not always know what we want. We may remain enigmas to ourselves and others. But sooner or later we discover who we’ve always known we were.
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