Hello! It’s Thinking Thursday, and that means it’s time for a review 😀 I read this book a couple of weeks ago, but I needed time to digest my thoughts and work through finals and such. I did read this book for one of my classes, and I do not let that influence my opinion of the work as much as I can.
Title || Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (GoodReads)
Author || Patrick Süskind
Published || in 1985 by Diogenes in Germany
Form || Physical
Genre || Historical Fiction, Horror?
Rating || 4/5
Yay || The language, the character study
Nay || The plot, to a degree
Summary || A scentless man follows his nose to murder.
Note: I tried a new review style for this. I hope you enjoy 😀
I think the key thing to know about you going in is in the title: you are the story of a murderer (a serial killer, to be specific). You are not a happy book. You are dark and, in some ways, ponderous. You are stranger. You are an examination of a sensory input many of us don’t pay close attention to, but you are also an exploration of a character type many find fascinating and abhorrent.
You are not, however, for everyone.
But you are, fortunately, for me.
I find your language beautiful. I wonder how much of it is translation, and how the original (which I do intend to read). Another reader might find you tedious, or distracting, but I found you engrossing and compelling.
Occasionally, you drift onto tangents regarding those whom Grenouille leaves behind. We see their lives carry on until their deaths, which are mostly irrelevant to our murderer. I found you thoroughly entertaining in this manner, but another reader may get off track and not come back, even if you do.
Your very nature almost requires that you be explicit. In some ways, you are. More repulsive, though, is how the clinical treatment of these terrible things makes them almost normal—it’s fascinating twist and a curious turn to Grenouille’s understanding of the value of a person—not in the life, but the scent to be preserved beyond it. We are so thoroughly encased in Grenouille’s perspective that we see and feel as he does, and are perhaps repulsed by our own careless treatment of the murder victims.
You studied Grenouille in such a thorough manner. Some aspects were strange, but certainly everything seems to fit into your plot. I question the reality of such a mindset as Grenouille’s—but I must buy into the magic of his nose—and you only report what apparently happened. For you, reality matters only insofar as it sets the stage for your story, and it works.
Your ending is bizarre and spectacular. Even knowing what would happen, I was surprised and shocked by the details of the event.
Another reader may be horrified you even exist.
Have you read Perfume? What did you think?
If you haven’t, do you now want to?
What are your thoughts on serial killers featuring in fiction?