Wednesday, February 21, 2024

761. Perfume

Patrick Suskind
Around 265 pages

This premise provides a great opportunity to hone your skills as a writer. Here we have a character who interprets the world and communicates with people mostly through smell, which requires tough literary acrobats to pull off. Suskind rose to the self- imposed challenge admirably. My creative muscles would probably need some medical attention after this.

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is an orphan with an exceptional nose. He is apprenticed to a local tanner, which is a pretty brutal place to be if you can smell. Grenouille is a murderer, as you may have surmised from the novel's subtitle. He discovers the power of scents over people, and vacillates between hatred and contempt for humanity.

Talk about an unforgettable ending. This was a disturbing novel, but like The Wasp Factory, it was so unique and well done that you can't help but admire it. His melding of different genres was masterful, and Jean-Baptiste is a one of a kind character. Sort of like Mr. Ripley, with superpowers.

Thankfully, there is more Suskind to come!

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Suskind may have been inspired by the real-life story of Spanish serial killer, Manuel Blanco Romasanta, also known as the "Tallow-Man", who killed several women and children, sold their clothes, and extracted their body-fat to make soap.

With translations into 49 languages and more than 20 million copies sold worldwide to date, Perfume is one of the best-selling German novels of the 20th century.

Adapted to film in 2006.

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