Eleanor's Reviews > Jitterbug Perfume

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
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's review
May 23, 2009

it was ok

I don't know how to feel about this book. Tom Robins is like Nabokov if he were horny less like a pedophile and more like a high school jock. Only, a jock equipped with the vocabulary of your favorite english professor, sugar sweet alterations and flashes of poetry so bright that reading this book is always a race between wanting to stop and type out passages that I ADORE and being so frustrated that he compared a nose to a VAGINA that I want to stop, wrap the book in a paper bag, and flush it down the toilet.

I think the ambivalence I feel about his writing is best described by Robins himself, in a passage describing monks/gods with whom one of the characters was hoping to study the secrets of long life:

"[The Bandaloop doctors:] were alternately hospitable and antagonistic. They would pour me milk to drink, then drop a turd in the cup. They would flatter me, then spit in my face. They would ignore me, then as I made to leave, they would implore me to stay."

But so far I think there's a lot more of this book, at least in fragments or in style that I want more of, so I imagine I'll finish it. Read at your own risk.


So. I'm still embarrassed that I actually finished this book, because it was so poorly edited and as I got closer to the 3rd quarter of the book, it kept getting worse and worse with all of the gratuitous sex/references.

But I had to know how it ended, and to his credit, Tom Robins finished out the last 4th of the book with the grace of Italo Calvino or even Tom Wolfe. It was quirky but beautiful.

Still, I felt personally soiled by Tom Robins for 75% of this book. Had it been a little less sexually rabid and a little more streamlined, I think this would have been a fantastic story. Robins is way better at describing long arcs than he is at giving individual characters meaningful personality differences. The best he can do sometimes is describe their ass or their nose. The excruciatingly contrived dialects he tries to portray are a headache every time.

Could possibly be a better movie than book, in the hands of the right screen writer.

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Reading Progress

05/09/2009 page 112

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