Friday, February 6, 2009

Snapshot Book Review: Perfume

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
Suskind is attempting to be Nathaniel Nawthorne. The idea is a good one: that a man can conquer society by smell. Truly, our sense of smell is the strongest, most persuasive of our senses, so this idea is essentially an intriguing one. What's more, setting it in the era of "perfumers" and in France made it all the more appealing.

However. The writing simply doesn't hold up. Passages are long and unweildy, and descriptions of scent simply are not...fragrant. Reading about sight and sound does not transport me to the time and place of this novel. I do not feel loathing for the protagonist, as I feel I should, but only a mild disgust. I also feel I should be captivated by him, but I am merely bored, because I can predict him, although he seems to be the "unpredictable" kind of murderer.

The language and pacing of the book is what makes me claim that Suskind is attempting to fashion his writing after that of Hawthorne or even Dickens. However, he just never succeeds. The fact that this novel was apparently made into an equally disappointing movie is quite sad, because in this case, the movie could have easily been an impovement upon the novel, particularly had they changed the ending.

If you're going to read Hawthorne, read Hawthorne.

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