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Jitterbug Perfume

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  69,256 ratings  ·  3,626 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 bottle ...more
Paperback, 342 pages
Published April 9th 2001 by No Exit Press (first published December 1984)
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Sydney S Of all of his books, this one is my favorite by a large margin. I don’t know if that would lead me to suggest it first or last, but I would probably s…moreOf all of his books, this one is my favorite by a large margin. I don’t know if that would lead me to suggest it first or last, but I would probably say first. If you read any of his others first and you aren’t hooked by them or interested, you may never read this one, and that would be a tragedy! I think Jitterbug Perfume is by far his best work. I hope that helps!(less)

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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  69,256 ratings  ·  3,626 reviews

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Oct 24, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, american-lit
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
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
May 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 18, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
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
I'm going to add many quotes from this book and not indulge too much in the plot.

Like Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, and my more recent read of Jonathan Carroll's The Land Of Laughs, this book took me into a maze of philosophies and literary genres, which one of the characters in the book, Dr. Wigs Dannyboy, so eloquently described: "As fortunate as I am to be born an Irishman and thus possess a license to broadcast this brand o' pseudolyrical bullshit, that's how fortun
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The highest function of love is that it makes the loved one a unique and irreplaceable being."

“Jitterbug Perfume” is a novel that starts out with 4 separate story lines. And then about 120 pages or so into the text the 4 stories slowly start to come together. As the tales become more and more entwined one cannot help but marvel at the genius of Tom Robbins.
The middle of the novel has moments that might get a little too heady for the casual reader, and therefore might come across as slow reading
Aug 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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? Double ch ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

The most glarin’ failure o’ the intelligentsia in modern times has been its inability to take comedy seriously.

The above Wiggs Dannyboy quote sums up the experience of my first Tom Robbins novel. It was a wild, irreverent, intellectually challenging and most of all a ‘fun’ ride, a ‘look up Chomolungma’s skirts’, a perennial search for ‘the perfect taco’, a quest for immortality and the meaning of life that tries to expose the connections between perfume, tantric sex, transcendental meditation,
Feb 23, 2010 rated it did not like it
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.
May 28, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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,
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
One thing I can say for sure is Jitterbug Perfume is nothing like anything I have read so far. This is my first Robbins so I don't know what his other novels are like, but we're talking about an exceptionally charismatic writer here.

Robbins takes a bunch of ingredients totally unrelated to one another and makes a story that's as unique as it is brilliant. Beets, horny gods, perfumes, ancient and modern history, eternal life, philosophy and sex. Not the cheesy, romantic kind of sex, but the raw,
Tom Robbins in this book opened my eyes to the wild, wild world of modern satire, absurdity, light-hearted comparative religious blasphemy, and BEETS.

Just ignore the stench that just entered the room... it's only my old pal and buddy, PAN.

Drunken revelries are pushed aside for the enjoyment of tons of sex, hot baths, and more sex as the keys to immortality, but if you think that's just fine for a novel like this, THINK AGAIN. A genius waitress working in a Mexican restaurant in Washington State
Sep 10, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was … a trip. Simultaneously several road trips in parallel to one another and A TRIP. Maybe I’ve sniffed that perfume bottle one too many times.

We start in Seattle with meeting part-time waitress and amateur-perfumer Priscilla. Then, the focus shifts to New Orleans to a perfumer / shop owner (the stepmother of the aforementioned waitress) and her assistant before shifting once more, this time to a large perfume company in Paris. Yes, it’s all about the smell.
Like the godawful smell of Pan
Sep 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.

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
Nov 29, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Megan Baxter
Apr 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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-o
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
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jun 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Aug 17, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Ian Scuffling
I wasn’t familiar with Tom Robbins when I picked up this little book, which I enjoyed in fits and bursts of reading aloud with my partner. She had read Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, but I didn’t have a whole lot of context. The premise seemed intriguing—a world of perfume, ancient gods, and an immortal man. It also had a unique structure with characters across the globe. And Robbins’s style is that of a quirky, punning humorist. Dry and sometimes darkly bleak. Also, at times, heady with that whif ...more
Vit Babenco
“History begot Rome, and history someday will bury it. In the meantime, you've other fish to fry. Have you forgotten? Are you to be an individual, a trespasser in territory none else has had the wit or nerve to explore, or just another troublesome mosquito to be swatted by the authorities?”
On the one hand I liked a quite colourful language of Jitterbug Perfume, on the other hand the tale annoyed me with its inconsistency and vacuousness…
And Tom Robbins too often tends to become trashy and prepo
Jun 15, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Fucking terrible.

An immortality fable thoroughly leavened with pseudo-spiritual bullshit, goofball names (Bingo Pajama! Huxley Anne and Wiggs Dannyboy! V'lu Jackson! The Bandaloops!), nonsensical descriptions ('Above Seattle, the many-buttocked sky continued to grind', 'The shaman grinned like a weasel running errands for the moon'), a black character dat sho 'nuff be talkin' like dis, and a yucky, hairy, hornball lesbian - Careful, Priscilla - she's going to corner you and eat your pussy!

At on
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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.

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