Patrick Suskind
Perfume Cover



Perfume starts with an interesting premise which develops into an increasingly absurd tale. Towards the end it it becomes more and more preposterous. And yet--it isn't so outlandish that it becomes laughable. It draws us in and we follow along, enthralled, as if under the spell of one of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille's scents.

Grenouille is French for frog, though in the book this main character is referred to as a tick.

Grenouille was so calm and cooperative at his arrest that I knew he knew that he would not be executed. Being olfactorily impaired myself, I can't imagine scents, even pheromones, having the effects on people that they do in this story. I did think the story kind of frayed at the end. The wrap-up was quick and a little unsatisfying.

There was a passage that caught my attention as Grenouille arrives at the place of his execution and is surrounded by the crowd. "It was as if the man had ten thousand invisible hands and had laid a hand on the genitals of the ten thousand people surrounding him and fondled them in just the way that each of them, whether man or woman, desired in his or her most secret fantasies." It strained my credulity that a scent could have such an overwhelming effect on people. And then I thought maybe there is something to it. There is a certain American personage who loves to surround himself with adoring throngs. Maybe this is how he does it.