Jitterbug Perfume
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Jitterbug Perfume

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  39,468 ratings  ·  2,426 reviews
"Jitterbug Perfume" is an epic. which is to say, it begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and doesn't conclude until nine o'clock tonight [Paris time]. It is a saga, as well. A saga must have a hero, and the hero of this one is a janitor with a missing bottle. The bottle is blue, very, very old, and embossed with the image of a goat-horned god. If the liquid in the bott...more
Paperback, 342 pages
Published April 9th 2001 by Oldcastle Books (first published 1984)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Trin
Well, I officially don’t get Tom Robbins. People have recommended him on the basis of comparisons to Douglas Adams, but Adams is, you know, funny. Here’s what seems to pass for humor in a Tom Robbins novel: beets (the very existence of), a woman getting stung in a delicate place by a bee, and lesbians (the very existence of). And here’s the kind of prose you can look forward to:

The sky, layered with thin altostratus clouds and smog, appeared to reflect human suffering and failed to awaken in Cl...more
Madeleine
Before I knew that magical realism was a thing, I loved Tom Robbins. Before I fell hard for postmodernism, I fell for Tom Robbins. Before I had developed a literary taste that I can be proud of, there was the beacon of hope for me that is Tom Robbins.

There aren’t many things I loved in high school that I still love now: Listening to the same Dashboard Confessional CD on infinite repeat, running to Livejournal to unselfconsciously document every oh-so-significant spike in my emotional temperature...more
oriana
post-read: Ohhhh, I really missed reading Robbins. What fun!

This book was both more and less wonderful than I'd remembered. More because I'd forgotten just what a superb stylist Robbins is (see mid-read comments). His plots are intricate, his characters are rendered in wonderful detail, down to the distinctive vocal stylings. His ideas, though perhaps a smidge stale twenty-five years on, are still interesting and fun and clever and smart, intellectual, but not in a showy or pedantic way. Plus t...more
Scott
Tom Robbins is, to me, like the band Rush (I know this seems like I'm trying too hard, but honestly, this is the best analogy I can come up with & this is legitmately the first thing that came to mind): You like them ok, and even get a bit excited when they come up on the radio, but when you're grabbing CDs for your car, your copy of "Moving Pictures" somehow never quite makes the cut. That's how it is with me and Tom Robbins. Well written? Check. Interesting characters? Check. Unique? Doubl...more
Kelly
Nov 03, 2008 Kelly rated it 2 of 5 stars Recommends it for: pervy teenage boys
Recommended to Kelly by: Ryan, Holly
Shelves: general_fiction
Told to read this by my boyfriend who declared that I NEEDED to read this book to understand him, I am now disgusted and reconsidering my relationship. Ok, I'm kidding, but I take solace in the fact he read this book in high school.

Oddly enough, my best friend also said this is her favorite book.

Either I'm surprised to discover I'm a prude, or Robbins wastes way too much of a promising book on misogynistic fantasies of all women as nymphomaniacs who live and breathe to seduce and pleasure their...more
Clouds

Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my GIFTS AND GUILTY list.

Regardless of how many books are already queued patiently on my reading list, unexpected gifts and guilt-trips will always see unplanned additions muscling their way in at the front.


Let's jump straight in with a quote from somebody els...more
Mariel
Feb 09, 2011 Mariel rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: beetles
Recommended to Mariel by: beetniks
If that cliche (is it a cliche? It's said a thousand times) were true about pictures being worth a thousand words...



This is a beet book. Robbins didn't BEAT us over the head with the beets. I was all over the beets like beets in borscht. (Hey, so were other goodreaders. Nice!)

What are words worth? William Wordsworth probably knows. I'm with Slugsworth. We try to steal Willy Wonka's chocolate recipes and the words from others. I'm gonna eavesdrop.


However, the horny goats were less experimental t...more
D'Arcy
I have vacillated between a four and five star rating on this. I LOVE the words. Each page was a delicious treat that kept me on the edge of my seat...what metaphor or simile or pun would Robbins pull out of the treasure chest that is his brain? I fell in LOVE with the language. I know it sounds weird, but the way he wrote about the beet and all vegetables on the very first page sold me. I knew this book would be amazing.

The only thing that keeps me from giving it 100% are the main story lines....more
Garen
Hm. What to say about this guy . . . this is totally a guy you either love or hate, and yet I find myself strangely ambivalent. There are some things i really appreciated about the book and his style, and there are some things I really didn't care for. Whatever one says about this writer, the first is that he is a complete iconoclast of Rabelasian proportion. He ignores pretty much every rule that fiction writers generally, in good taste, abide by. And to an extent that's quite refreshing. He's...more
Jennifer
May 22, 2009 Jennifer rated it 1 of 5 stars Recommends it for: enemies.
Recommended to Jennifer by: a million different people
i've found that with tom robbins' novels, you either love it or hate it. i hated this one. disappointing since so many people have told me that i "HAD" to read it, assured that i would just love it. for the record, i liked 'still life with woodpecker' and 'skinny legs and all.' i didn't care for 'even cowgirls get the blues' and thought this one was so full of shit that the topic of perfume was so sorely needed to cover the overwhelming stench. maybe i just wasn't in the right mindset. maybe i'm...more
Jana
Two stars, and I’m being nice. And I am a f*cking huge fan of beetroot.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been eating it like it’s the only vegetable on the menu. It’s good for iron in the blood, and I like it pickled, raw and boiled. I could eat it constantly. I love sex as well, I love reading about it. Of course you want to know a lot about.

But this book was hysterical. In the beginning I was so enthusiastic, and Alobar had a face and body of Gerard in ‘300’ movie. Oh la la la, take me, take me,...more
Megan Baxter
The perils of reading books that have some similarities too close together. (Or, at least partly, at the same time.) One of them suffers by comparison. So while Ghostwritten was a strong 4, almost 5 stars, Jitterbug Perfume squeaks into a 4, just barely.

Not that, in tone, Jitterbug Perfume and Ghostwritten have much in common. But they are both books with stories that initially seem unrelated, and later are revealed as interconnected, and both of which incorporate some otherwordly elements.

And...more
Steve
Here’s a question for those who have read Tom Robbins: How would you describe him to the uninitiated? Certainly you’d have to say he’s quirky, in a wordplayful sort of way. His eccentric use of metaphors is like a Catskills comedian’s use of one-liners – it’s a big part of the act. There’s usually some substance to his writing, too. The social commentary is often straight from the flower power perspective, but he’s more insightful than most when it comes to articulating a view. He was an art maj...more
Gina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Morgan
I keep feeling like this book is like something else that I've read, but I couldn't tell you what that something else is.

I guess it's kinda like Kurt Vonnegut meets Robert Anton Wilson meets . . . maybe Chuck Palahniuk, emphasis on maybe, but very much Vonnegut meets Wilson.

And kinda Philip K. Dick, a little, just less of the science fiction and more of the mind-blowing philosophical standpoint.

That being said, I liked it. It's incredibly dense, in the sense that there is so much in it. The lang...more
Jen
Jitterbug Perfume was the first Tom Robbins book I ever read, back in the spring of my freshman year of college in 1996 (thanks, Yanek!). I fell in love instantly. If you've never read a Robbins book before, I will warn that they are not for everyone - he likes to push the envelope when it comes to social pre-conceptions, religion, relationships, etc. - but if you tend to like weird, quirky, philosophical stories, you owe to yourself to give at least one of his books a try. This one focuses on t...more
Katy
Nov 02, 2012 Katy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: those who love words, satire, perfume
Please note: I read and reviewed this book in 2007; that review is posted here. I have made minor alterations to fit into my current format. The book was a used copy I picked up at Goodwill, and as a result I was not under any obligation to anyone. My opinions and thoughts are my own.

Book Synopsis from Paperback Edition: A story beginning in the forests of ancient Bohemia and ending at nine o'clock tonight, Paris time. The hero is a janitor with a missing bottle which is embossed with the image...more
Ginny
Colto, ironico, imprevedibile, stravagante e surreale, questo romanzo è incentrato sulla ricerca dell’immortalità, sull’inseguimento attraverso i secoli di una bottiglietta di profumo irresistibile e sull’importanza determinante delle barbabietole nelle vicende degli individui e dell’umanità intera.
description
Il tutto è distribuito in oltre trecentocinquanta pagine fitte di situazioni pirotecniche, trovate fulminanti, improponibili metafore e associazioni logiche che sconfinano nell’assurdo. L’impressione...more
Tori
May 26, 2008 Tori rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Anyone who is open minded and who is not squeamish
This book is RIDICULOUS! Its a huge, dense story in a small package. I thought I would speed right through it, but it is so dense that it has taken me nearly 3 weeks to get through it.
I recommend this book highly. Its smart, thought-provoking, and over-the-top. I have never read anything like it before.
The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that the incessant absurd metaphors that Robbins uses grow tiresome after the first few chapters. At first they seem clever, but then after the first 20...more
Sara
What's up with the juvenile sex talk, man? Ugh it's a great story, pretty funny and exciting and all, but he just has to throw in descriptions of genitals and sex acts wherever he can. I'm certainly no prude, but that doesn't mean that I need to know about every erection and scenario where the main characters have more sex in five minutes of reading than most people have all month! And I'm sorry, but there is no way to make a clever metaphor for boners or boobs or whatever. It's a waste of good...more
T.D. Whittle
(No plot spoilers.) This book is such an adventurous romp. I enjoyed it from beginning to end, and I missed the characters once I'd finished the tale. Robbins's mind is a wonder to behold, as the tentacles of his narrative spiral out in many directions at once, but then rapidly coalesce again with grace and agility. What I like best about this story, and its writer, is that it manages to explore existential themes that could be ponderous and overwrought in a deft, sensual, and comical way. The q...more
Justin
Talk about not understanding what all the fuss is about. If I'm not mistaken, Tom Robbins is kind of a literary legend in some circles, and at the very least has sold millions of books. And while there's certainly an intelligent, probing mind behind this sexual-philosophical hodgepodge of a book, the sum of the parts of my first foray into Robbins' world was not much fun to read.

I recently read an interview with Tom Robbins in which the author admits to being able to write about two pages a day....more
Vanessa
This was my first Tom Robbins novel, and is still my favorite. I am reading it again because after a TR drought, I tried to read Another Roadside Attraction (my 6th TR I think) and have really not been able to catch on... So I feel like I've forgotten what it was that I like about TR and I'm getting to know him all over again.

For being my first Tom Robbins, I can see now why I started to like him: the epic style, millenia-crossing arcs, the witty metaphors, the dabbling in religious theory... I...more
Saha
Uniquely written, deeply satisfying as well as profoundly alarming, Jitterbug Perfume has it all. As a lover of Tom Robbins' writing style, his flexible plot lines, and the unique way he portrays his characters, I consider this his Magnum Opus. The clever, captivating, and quite often smug prose is the only right tone for these profound characters to evolve, and the carefully-crafted complex setting compliments a plot full of excitement. A Must-Read for sure.
Samantha
Feb 28, 2008 Samantha rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Fans of quirky fiction
Shelves: funny-satirical
Breathe properly. Bathe often. Eat your veggies (especially beets). Have lots of sex. These are the keys to staying young and living longer. Oh, and it's all intimately linked with our sense of smell.

At times hysterically funny, at times excruciatingly tedious ("Dannyboy's Theory" at the end made me want to gouge my eyes out with a shrimp fork), this book was, overall, good.

Not great. Not wonderful. Just good.

The book is full of odd characters who are likeable to varying degrees. I liked Marcel...more
Gertie
I was surprised at how much I liked this book... it's been a long time (we're talking over a decade) since I've read a Tom Robbins book and my expectations weren't terribly high for this one.

I knew absolutely nothing about the story when I began reading, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that it was the type of story I usually enjoy. It includes a "skilled underdog" story (a young female perfumer), and an immortality story, which is often pretty fascinating, and includes kings, alternate di...more
Kitty
As with anything Robbins writes I find myself hard pressed to find a way to accurately describe his work. Or the plot, or the style or even the characters come to think of it. Perhaps this is why the descriptions on the back of his books are always so obtuse, more like pieces of a puzzle that can only be deciphered upon completion of the book so that we, the readers, armed with our literary decoder rings can go back over them and say "ah, yes so the main character really WAS a janitor the whole...more
Lisa Vegan
The library gave me a musty, beat up hardcover edition with a missing dust cover. I’m so visually oriented that in order to better enjoy the book I printed out pictures of both the hardcover and a paperback cover too.

I really struggled while reading this book and it took me forever to read it.

I enjoyed the main love story and liked the parts that take place in ancient Bohemia much better than most of the modern era portions.

While I was reading I felt as though I was reading a series of different...more
Holly
Here's a discussion board assignment I wrote for an advanced English class regarding Jitterbug Perfume:

My favorite author, Tom Robbins, was my favorite author even before he wrote my favorite novel of all time. My copies of Robbins’ first three books, Another Roadside Attraction, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, and Still Life with Woodpecker (especially the latter) were tattered and dog-eared with repeated readings long before I got my hands on Jitterbug Perfume. It was 1985, and I was a twenty-one...more
Kelly
Jun 24, 2008 Kelly rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: people who like beets & meditation & nice smells & making out. (i.e. myself.)
Recommended to Kelly by: me old housemate Kate
Shelves: greatest_hits
As I'd said to my friend Juliana, once I'd started this book: part of me wonders what took me so long between being recommended the book in 1996 and finally getting around to reading it, like, TODAY. But then another part of me knows that I did not yet dig so heavily on, say, beets and Tibetan Buddhism (both of which have figured crucially by p. 116) back in 1996. And then, oh my God, an accordionist, a crucial accordionist, appears! I mean really.

So maybe I had to, you know, get with it, befor...more
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Thomas Eugene Robbins (born July 22, 1936 in Blowing Rock, North Carolina) is an American author. His novels are complex, often wild stories with strong social undercurrents, a satirical bent, and obscure details. His novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976) was made into a movie in 1993 directed by Gus Van Sant.

More about Tom Robbins...
Still Life with Woodpecker Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Skinny Legs and All Another Roadside Attraction Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates

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