Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What does a Podpeep Read ...

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
By Patrick Suskind

Infanticide, torture, murder, orgies, and cannibalism -- what more could one ask for in a story of a murderer? But this is not a mere story of a murderer. No. It is not as mundane as that: this story gives witness to the birth of a madman.

Luxurious settings, detailed from a rather different and unexpected point of view; rich and intricate characters; and an ending you will never anticipate ... this is truly an original story. So erotic and engaging that it is criminal.

Jean-Baptiste, born into putrescence, an outcast, tortured, and abused, makes his way through his pitiable life wondering only why death would not take him. The why, which Jean comes to understand later, is that he has been endowed with a wondrous gift. At points in this story, one might liken Jean to Tolkien's Gollum, a precious gift turns the mind to obsession, an obsession which leads to delusions of godlike power. Jean plots to use this power to overcome his tortured existence, to rise above, and to become one of those who oppress him. Jean seeks to create a perfume with the essence of innocence, a perfume that will invoke feelings of love, a perfume so powerful the world will fall to its knees in awe of him.

This story is truly a masterpiece ... you can literally smell this tale oozing from the pages.

I read this book about 6 months or so before the movie came out. It is a translation, and from what I hear, a good one. The cover is the original, and I like it much better than the cover they are using currently. Now, this is not a hack and slash horror novel, while there are a few graphic bits, the thrust of the story is the subtle psychological drama that unfolds delicately under one's very nose. If I had to compare it, I would say the philosophical leanings would be along the lines of Camus' The Stranger. Definitely worth the read. The movie was good as well, but sadly, it didn't have the same impact.


Shannon Yarbrough said...

I saw the movie and thought it was absolutely brilliant. Having not read the book, I don't know if it is a good adaptation so I can't compare. But, in my opinion, the movie is truly captivating up until the very end. It's already so over the top, but the ending was above extreme. Alas, I still enjoyed it. Ben Wishaw was a perfect Jean-Baptiste

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

He was. The book was so much better, the backstory was more developed, and it captured Jean's internal struggle moreso than they could in the movie. Even I did not expect such a violent and obsessive ending. If you read Camus' The Stranger you will see a similar theme in the end -- both being an execution of a sorts, both characters going into it with identical philosophies. Perfume isn't that long of a novel, and it's a page turner. I think I read it in two or three days.