Perfume by Patrick Suskind

Perfume by Patrick Suskind: This is the life story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a man with superhuman olfactory senses but no body odor of his own. The whole tale is abundantly strange, from Grenouille’s unusual birth to the string of bodies he leaves in his wake, whether he knows it or not. He reminds me somewhat of Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs. I would advise against reading while eating, as many of the scent descriptions are vivid and unpleasant. Grenouille experiences the world through his nose, and the world of 18th-century France was quite odoriferous. The weirdness of the story escalates at the end, until I started having trouble swallowing it. It was like the whole theme of the narrative shifted for the last few chapters. And if you look at it from that angle, the ending is (mostly) logical and satisfying, but most of the story leading up to it didn’t quite fit. That said, I flew through this book and was fascinated by the idea of telling a story chiefly through scent. And it is indeed told well. I’m just not sure to whom I’d recommend it. Perhaps people who like dark and weird fiction.

Now I’m terribly curious to see how they managed to make a movie out of a novel built around smells.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

  1. I’ve seen the movie (though I haven’t read the book) and it is indeed dark and weird. Good, though. The ending is essentially a giant orgy, but it seemed strangely fitting.

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