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I was reading a book "Call me by your name" and I was so confused by the tense they use in the book. It is obviously the story they tell happens in the past but they use present tense. I am trying to understand but have not figured out yet. Someone please takes a look and help me:

"Later!" The word, the voice, the attitude. I'd never heard anyone use "later" to say goodbye before. It sounded harsh, curt, and dismissive, spoken with the veiled in-difference of people who may not care to see or hear from you again. It is the first thing I remember about him, and I can hear it still today. Later! I shut my eyes, say the word, and I'm back in Italy, so many years ago (IT IS OBVIOUSLY IN THE PAST BUT THEY USE PRESENT TENSE) , walking down the tree-lined driveway, watching him step out of the cab, billowy blue shirt, wide-open collar, sunglasses, straw hat, skin everywhere. Suddenly he's shaking my hand (WHY DO THEY USE PRESENT TENSE????) , handing me his backpack, removing his suitcase from the trunk of the cab, asking if my father is home. It might have started right there and then: the shirt, the rolled-up sleeves, the rounded balls of his heels slipping in and out of his frayed espadrilles, eager to test the hot gravel path that led (WHY IS THERE A PAST TENSE IN PRESENT TENSE???) to our house, every stride already asking, Which way to the beach? This summer's houseguest. Another bore. Then, almost without thinking, and with his back already turned to the car, he waves (WHY DO THEY USE PRESENT TENSE) the back of his free hand and utters a careless Later! to another passenger in the car who has probably split the fare from the station. No name added, no jest to smooth out the ruffled leave-taking, nothing."

  • From the text: " I'd never heard anyone use "later" to say goodbye before. It sounded harsh, curt, and dismissive, spoken with the veiled in-difference of people who may not care to see or hear from you again. It is the first thing I remember about him, and I can hear it still today." The narrator is saying that although the things happened in the past it is the first thing the writer rememembers, and can still hear (in the writer's mind) today – bookmanu Aug 21 at 9:26
  • "I'm back in Italy, so many years ago". The writer clearly states that they are re-living an incident in the past. – Kate Bunting Aug 21 at 9:38