Do you believe in love at first sight? The kind that makes your heart stop, quickens your pulse and freezes your senses? Maybe it does happen in real life. Or maybe it just exists in books, like in André Aciman’s “Eight White Nights.” This novel, set in New York City, follows two people in their late-20s who toy with the idea of falling in love. Much of the story takes place within the narrator’s (nicknamed Oskar) head, as he grapples with his infatuation and sexual tension with the mysterious Clara. “Some of the most eloquent courtship passages take place in the narrator’s mind. Richly elaborated as some of them are, they give the book a claustrophobic quality,” Richard Eder of the Los Angeles Times said. Aciman name-drops numerous literary and musical artists, but his own long-winded sentences and airy writing style are an obvious nod to Marcel Proust. The New York Times criticizes how disconnected the novel is to the present:
The world of this novel is detached from reality, creating a vacuum around Oskar and Clara that gradually saps their story of life. In the vaguely aristocratic, Europe-inflected New York of “Eight White Nights,” there … are just Oskar and Clara and their friends, all apparently without real-life worries to speak of.