50 books to read before you die discussion

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
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message 1: by Mayra (new)

Mayra (kaligurl_7) | 371 comments If any of you would like to lead the discussion go ahead. I dont think i will get the chance to read this book although it does sound interesting.

Enjoy! Happy Reading. :)

Longhare Content | 107 comments I would be happy to lead this one. I don't need much of a push to read this one again!

message 3: by Mayra (new)

Mayra (kaligurl_7) | 371 comments That would be great thanx. :)

Longhare Content | 107 comments Okay, it's Aug 1. Everybody start reading. If you start tonight, you may be done by morning. I gave this book to a friend on her first trip to Paris. She read it the entire flight and finished just before landing.

Ignore the hype on the book jacket that makes our protagonist sound like a basic run-of-the-mill sex crazed serial killer. He's way better than that. Peter Ackroyd called him Noseferatu, which is all you need to start with. Go to.

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 743 comments Long hare, you've got me captivated! I'm off to the bib as soon as my shift ends!

Longhare Content | 107 comments His name was Jean-Baptiste Grenouille and his gifts and his sole ambition were restricted to the fleeting realm of scent.

Jean-Baptiste--a fairly generic 18th century French name (John Baptist, the voice in the wilderness). Grenouille=frog. Notice, his ambition is not carnage. This is the set up for the rest of the novel. We know from the title that he is a murderer. He is called a blackguard and an abomination--he lacks the civility that would have required him to die at birth (he lived out of "sheer spite and sheer malice"), thus sparing his mother (victim No. 1) and everyone else.

Fittingly, this prodigy of scent is born in the smelliest, most putrid spot in the smelliest city in the world (Ah, Paris!). Suskind's description is gorgeously revolting and also historically accurate. One thing I love about this book is how vividly he portrays France during that era (he researched it to death), yet the characters all speak unaffected 1980's English (translated from the German, of course). The verisimilitude is not in whether "poohpoohpeedooh" had yet been coined in 1738 but in the musings of the monk flattering himself that he is somehow calming and soothing a baby that is already sound asleep.

Linda | 85 comments I'm excited about this one as it has been on my TBR list for a few of years now, but increasingly on my radar more recently. Went to the used book store tonight to find a copy, along with some other books, but I couldn't remember the author's name. I had it in my head as starting with "Sis..." instead of "Sus..." and so of course I didn't find it. Arg! So another trip is needed now. I guess this will give me time to finish reading one other book in the meantime.

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 743 comments Picked up my copy at the bib Saturday. Several very enthusiastic librarians commented on it.

message 9: by Longhare (last edited Aug 04, 2014 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Longhare Content | 107 comments While everybody is reading the first few chapters, I will throw out a few things:

Patrick Suskind is a reclusive German writer, with one other novel (The Story of Mr. Sommer) and a handful of short stories available in English.

Perfume was one of Kurt Cobain's favorite novels. Homework: Dig out In Utero and ponder lyrics to "Scentless Apprentice."

Originally published in 1985 (1986 in English), Perfume was a popular bestseller that academics nevertheless found irresistible. According to Jeffrey Adams in an article published in the Germanic Review (Fall, 2000), "The novel has been read variously as an indictment of Enlightenment rationality, as an allegory of the fascist mind, or simply as a cynical postmodern pastiche that serves the reader titillating but derivative kitsch." This may explain why Suskind is a recluse, and don't you just love Internet?

Grenouille is the anti-Pinocchio. His mother, jettisoning him into the fish offal, hopes someday to have a real boy.

Longhare Content | 107 comments Though Grenouille's name means frog, he is primarily compared to a tick--always waiting invisibly for the next opportunity. He is also compared to a spider and a toad, in that he curls up into himself. When he goes in search of the redheaded girl, what he resembles most (nose-wise) is a bloodhound.

Jeanne Bussie says he is possessed or something devilish because he does not smell like children and cannot be a human child. To the other children at Madame Gaillard's he is ghoulish--a bad dream, a chilly draft, a spider. Gaillard, who is barely human herself, believes he has supernatural abilities. Grimal doesn't treat any child as human. It isn't until he persuades Baldini to let him mix the perfume that "for the first time he was more human than animal."

What about this moment makes Grenouille feel "human"? Is it finally being in his element? Having great stuff to play with? I think it has to do with getting what he wants from another person. He has never asked for anything before. Baldini is probably the first person to have something he wants that he can ask for--and his request is more of a demand. He has plans that he has no intention of sharing with Baldini. So he is being domineering and manipulative and taking what he wants: the only kind of human behavior he is familiar with. Also, unlike an animal, which can only appreciate odors as they come, he now has the means to apply his very human genius to mastering odors--to become an artist of scent.

Longhare Content | 107 comments So, has everybody made it through Part 1? Thoughts? Opinions?

Linda | 85 comments I just got back from a long weekend away, certain that my copy would have arrived in the mail after ordering it on Monday, but it has not. I probably won't be able to start reading until later this week. I'm going to have to play catch up with everyone!

message 13: by Christine (last edited Aug 12, 2014 11:42AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Christine Just finished chapter 7 and I could smell everything as if I was there.

Many years ago in Tetuan, Morocco, I visited a tannery. It was probably very much like the one in the book, open pits full of liquid with hides soaking in them under the hot sun. Oh the smell, it hit you right at the back of your throat making your stomach churn, it was horrendous. We later walked through the spice market, cloves, cumin, coriander, pepper, turmeric and saffron permeated the air, it was fabulous.

I loved the description of Grenouille's walk about Paris, great writing.

Longhare Content | 107 comments This book really makes you realize how much humanity has done to eliminate odor from normal daily existence. I'm all for a squeaky clean, non-stinky environment myself, but a lot of good smells seem to have gone by the wayside as well. I wish my local grocer had a spice market in the parking lot!

What do you think of how Suskind describes scent? It's quite a challenge, if you think about it. New babies do smell delicious, but caramel?!

Christine His descriptions make you think about smells, not the smell itself but what you associate a smell with. Jeanne Bussie admitted that she knew nothing about caramel but she had "watched it made out of melted sugar and cream. It smelled so good that I've never forgotten it." Therefore a baby should smell good and as Grenouille didn't smell, he was evil.

I really love the way he describes scent, the wood, burning logs with a mossy aroma and the smell of pine wood and all the other types of wood. The walk by the river with just a touch of the sea, seaweed and fresh-air. Then he moves on to sweeter smells of lavender, patchouli and sandalwood. By the end of chapter 7 Suskind has made sure we know how acute Grenouille's sense of smell has become.

Longhare Content | 107 comments When Grenouille thinks about the sea and how much he would like to go to sea, it makes me wonder how different his life might have been. Probably he would have been tossed overboard as a Jonah at the first hint of a gale, but I can't help thinking Suskind was hinting that his life might have gone another way.

I had to keep reminding myself that this is a horror story. Grenouille's sense of smell requires an imaginative leap. He is a man endowed with the nose of a sniffer dog. His other senses, particularly sight, seem blunted, and almost his entire perception of the world is through his sense of smell.

I think a lot of what Grenouille perceives as scent and what the other characters perceive only as another person's "presence" is actually pheromones. Given what we know about pheromones now, imagine what it would be...ah, no, we'll wait til people have read further.

message 17: by Christine (last edited Aug 15, 2014 11:32AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Christine Just finished chapter 7 and I find it interesting that everyone who employed Grenouille died when he left them. Baldini paid Grimal, the tanner, 20 livre to release Grenouille from his apprenticeship. He then spent it all on alcohol and drown in the river on the way home. When Baldini released Grenouille from his employment, his house fell into the river killing both himself and his wife.

Longhare Content | 107 comments And don't forget his mother and Madame Gaillard's misfortune in living too long!

Although, the bad luck that follows Grenouille is not actually caused by him. You can actually look at all the bad ends these people come to from a different vantage point--maybe Grenouille was instead merely lucky that these things did not happen while he was around--he narrowly missed Baldini's disaster and would have been thrown out of work if Grimal had done his faceplant earlier.

He was an enormous help to all of these people while he was with them--they would have considered themselves blessed if they hadn't been so creeped out by him. They are so selfish and willing to exploit him, he feels nothing but hatred for them. So when he leaves, he not only takes his "blessing" with him but also seems to bring down a curse on them.

Or, it may be that death and misfortune are common to everyone and Grenouille, as a monster, is an easy scapegoat.

I kinda felt sorry for Baldini. He didn't seem like such a bad guy, standing on the bridge watching his life flow away from him or wistfully remembering the jonquil fields. Yet he was a terrible cheat and his kindness, such as it was, was entirely profit driven.

I guess the real question is how far are we supposed to feel sorry for Grenouille? Sure life has been rough, but...

Christine Yes they both exploited him something terrible for there own profit. Grimal thought of him as no more than an animal, only feeding and housing him better when he realised what an asset he was.

Baldini was kinder and although he nursed him through his illness for his own selfish reasons, he was scared of him. I think Baldini tried to do his best but became like the other perfumers he despised.

I feel that Suskind wants us to feels sorry for Grenouille's plight but after killing that young girl just for her smell it makes you wonder what he is capable of.

No doubt I shall find out in part 2.

Longhare Content | 107 comments Part 2 is a little weird, and I think a lot of readers slog through it. You find out more about what Grenouille is than what he is capable of. It is important to know finally what is going on inside his head, and he has an epiphany that impels his actions for the rest of the book.

message 21: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 743 comments Just finished part 1.

Was fascinated by how Grenouille is considered as evil from very early on, particularly as he has no smell. Can evil really be detected in one so young? I like to think not, that evil is something that is learnt and not inherent.

Grenouille as a frog makes a weird sort of sense- unattractive with a slimy quality to him. Do frogs have a good sense of smell- will have to google this.

I loved the lyrics to scentless apprentice, loved the idea that Kurt Cobain enjoyed this book so much that he was compelled to put it into a song. Great tribute to a book!

"Scentless Apprentice"

Like most babies smell like butter
His smell smelled like no other
He was born scentless and senseless
He was born a scentless apprentice

Go away - get away, get a-way

Every wet nurse refused to feed him
Electrolytes smell like semen
I promise not to sell your perfumed secrets
There are countless formulas for pressing flowers

Go away - get away, get a-way

I lie in the soll and fertilize mushrooms
Leaking out gas fumes are made into perfume
You can't fire me because I quit!
Throw me in the fire and I won't throw a fit

Go away
Get away [x6]
Get a-way

One of the most beautiful arts of this book is the descriptions of the smells in the perfumery.

I hope to keep up with discussions from here.

Thanks Longhare.

Longhare Content | 107 comments Lisa, like all good monster stories, Perfume is asking what makes a person evil. Can a baby be evil? He can't hurt anybody, right? Oh, but wait. Jeanne Bussie complains that he is greedy and eats enough for two babies. That's usually what someone says about a nice healthy baby who is expected to grow big and strong, but Grenouille is riff-raff and not entitled to eat his fill or grow strong--he is simply reducing her income. Even so, this is only Bussie's excuse for returning him--really, he just creeps her out. He lacks something critical that defines him as rightfully human, and his insatiable appetite seems to confirm this.

So, is he naturally evil and his lack of smell a marker that lets people know there is something dangerous about this creature? Or does his lack of smell prevent other people from connecting with him so that he is never able to form appropriate relationships?

Linda | 85 comments I just started reading yesterday and am mid-chapter 10. I didn't know how this novel would be able to convey so many smells, but it does it very well. The beginning with Grenouille's birth under the fish stall and all the surrounding smells set a high standard for the rest of the book. I loved the scene of him sitting on the chord of wood under the eaves and the descriptions of all the woody smells he received - it made me wish I was sitting there smelling in all those natural woody scents!

It was interesting to have pointed out all of the additional scents and how far his perception could go when he wondered why there were only single words for things such as "smoke" and "milk".

On the other hand, it is also interesting to see how the words that are associated with having a moral compass and living within a society while not doing harm to others have no scent, and are thus unable to be understood by Grenouille - "justice", "conscience", "responsibility", "humility", etc. I'm sure this point is very important in contributing to the course his life takes, as we see evident from his actions upon the red-headed girl. He doesn't really see what he has done, nor does he give it any thought. His only concern is for capturing her scent.

Longhare, I'm really enjoying all the extra contributions you are adding to the discussion of this book. Thank you for moderating this one!

Longhare Content | 107 comments Linda, Thank you. I'm glad you're enjoying the book. Here are a couple more nuggets:

Ambergris and civet are used to "fix" perfume to skin. Ambergris is found washed up on beaches as weird looking rocks and is created in the guts of sperm whales. It is either pooped out or puked out and hardens as it bobs along the waves. Because of its rarity, it is insanely valuable. It is illegal in the US because the alternative to finding it on the beach is to get it from the source. Herman Melville wrote in Moby Dick "Who would think, then, that such fine ladies and gentlemen should regale themselves with an essence found in the inglorious bowels of a sick whale!"

Civet is secreted from the anal gland of a civet (a striped critter somewhere between a house cat and a racoon). In its pure state, that's what it smells like. It is still widely used, especially in French perfumes, though a synthetic substitute is now also available.

Linda | 85 comments Not quite finished with Part I yet, but I wanted to pop in and say that I loved the descriptions of Grenouille when he delivered the goat hides to Baldini. The first chill I felt by one of the descriptions was this: Grenouille stood there cowering and gazing at Baldini with a look of apparent timidity, but with which in reality came from a cunning intensity.

And I like his comparisons to both a toad and a spider. Even his movements are described as such: Grenouille stepped out from Baldini's shadow, laid the leather on the table, but quickly jumped back again, placing himself between Baldini and the door.

And also: During the rather lengthy interruption that had burst from him, Grenouille had almost unfolded his body, had in fact been so excited for the moment that he had flailed both arms in circles to suggest the "all all of them" that he knew. But at Baldini's reply he collapsed back into himself, like a black toad lurking there motionless on the threshold.

This entire scene and interaction between Grenouille and Baldini was just very creepy and tense!

message 26: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 743 comments I remember that description from Moby Dick. It's interesting to think that something smelly & unpleasant is used to make something classy & pleasant. (As an aside, civets are quite pretty.)

I wonder if that is what Grenouille has in mind; to be transformed from his toady self, not just into a regular human, but someone far superior

Linda | 85 comments I haven't read Moby Dick, but that excerpt is great!

Thanks for the civet info, Longhare - it came in handy when I read Baldini's rant.

Longhare Content | 107 comments Linda wrote: "Not quite finished with Part I yet, but I wanted to pop in and say that I loved the descriptions of Grenouille when he delivered the goat hides to Baldini. The first chill I felt by one of the des..."

I have a weakness for sea stories. Richard Henry "Dana Point" Dana's Two Years Before the Mast has a wonderful description of handling hides, which would be bought from California ranchers and buried under the beach sand, much like Suskind describes. Dana was a big strong guy and he found the work unbearably grueling. It was so bad, getting back to sailors work was considered a merciful reprieve.

Lisa, Aha! I hadn't thought of that, but yeah. Symbolism is so great when it's just built in but not sticking out. Like a window. If you don't notice it, the story still works, but if you do, something in your brain goes boing!

Everybody, push through Part 2. Then the action picks up and zooms for home.

Linda | 85 comments Made headway last night and finished Part 2. Yeah, Wow. Weird stuff there!! The book turned in a direction I totally did not expect. And then for Grenouille to last out there for seven full years? It's no wonder people screamed out of terror when they saw him emerge from the mountain.

Although he acts like no other human, as evidenced by his strange hermitage and inner dialogue and "drinking of scents" from his "scent library", when he re-enters society, he it's amazing how he is still capable of cunning reasoning in order to get what he wants, like when he faked the fainting spell in order to get access to a perfumery.

The preparation of his personal perfume was pretty nasty! So, the base of his perfume is what we all supposedly smell like?!

I've just barely begun Part 3, but I can tell the rest of the book is going to be quick reading.

Linda | 85 comments Longhare wrote: "So, is he naturally evil and his lack of smell a marker that lets people know there is something dangerous about this creature? Or does his lack of smell prevent other people from connecting with him so that he is never able to form appropriate relationships? "

Hmmm...interesting questions posed here, Longhare. It seems from reading Part 2, after he has made his "human perfume" that he is able to integrate into society more easily. But still, that doesn't answer which of your two questions is correct. I will have to think about this more.

Longhare Content | 107 comments Another thing to think about:

When Grenouille is still young and hungrily exploring every scent he can find, he does not distinguish between good smells and bad smells. But when he leaves Paris, he realizes a particular hatred for the smells of humanity. What does it mean then when he feels terror at finding that he does not possess a human scent himself? Why is it so important to him to have even a nasty counterfeit scent?

Linda | 85 comments OK - DONE!! Ummm...all I have to say is that this book took a couple of turns I was totally not expecting!! For knowing ahead of time what the premise of this book was about, the actual murdering to obtain the desired scent was a very short section of the book.

Longhare, as for your previous questions, I am inclined to say that he is naturally evil, and that the lack of scent is a way of warning people. When he finally has a scent that makes people love and desire him, he is repulsed by them and all of humanity and wants them to all go away already. He feels suffocated - his inner fog engulfs him.

I'm not sure where other readers are yet in the book, so I won't say anymore at this point. Plus, I have to think about the ending a bit more.

Longhare Content | 107 comments Linda wrote: "OK - DONE!! Ummm...all I have to say is that this book took a couple of turns I was totally not expecting!! For knowing ahead of time what the premise of this book was about, the actual murdering..."

Just a reminder as we get near the end, everybody: no spoilers! The end is worth saving.

I will only say that as you are thinking about the nature of evil, you must also be considering the nature of love.

Linda | 85 comments Longhare wrote: "Just a reminder as we get near the end, everybody: no spoilers! The end is worth saving."

I hope I didn't say anything I wasn't supposed to?? I didn't think I said anything that was not already known from reading the back of the book...

As for your comment on considering the nature of love, that is an interesting point to bring up. I'm still thinking of the ending and what it all means. This book was a short and quick read, but there is a lot there to digest.

message 35: by Longhare (last edited Aug 22, 2014 08:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Longhare Content | 107 comments Linda wrote: "I hope I didn't say anything I wasn't supposed to??"

You didn't. (Sorry if that sounded like a reprimand. I didn't mean it that way.) But you reminded me that it is really hard to talk about this book without talking about the end. People will be finishing up and may accidentally spill the beans.

For those who really want to talk about the end, there is a tag you can use to hide your comment from those who haven't finished.

~ Step one: type in your comment
~ Step two: put your cursor right before the part you want to hide and type "<spoiler>"
~ Step three: go the end of the part you want to hide and type "</spoiler>" (note the slash and make sure it's the one that leans forward)
~ Step four: post, but check to make sure your comment is hidden with a spoiler alert. If it isn't, click on the "edit" link below the lower right-hand corner of the comment (the one between "reply" and "delete") and check your tags. Then click the "edit post" button.

I will test it here:

(view spoiler)

Christine Just finished the book. Loved it but I'm still thinking about it - very unusual story. The first thing that springs to mind is 'be careful of what you wish for'. He wanted to be normal, then hated it.

Linda | 85 comments About the ending. (view spoiler)

I'm curious what other readers thought of the ending, if there are other ideas or conclusions I did not pick up on?

Longhare Content | 107 comments Sorry about the delay in wrapping this up. I had deadlines all last week and couldn't come out to play.

So, you've read the end and now you're feeling rather uncomfortable. Which, of course, is the job of a good horror story. Suskind has taken the idea that if people have pheromones (which we do) like insects then our social behavior must to some extent be controlled by these chemical "messengers." He has made it scent, which is more evocative, but it is hard to conceive of pheromones as something other than scent. So the question is, what would happen to a honey bee with no pheromones? What would happen to a hive of bees suddenly hit with a tidal wave of pheromones? What if the honey bee were a man?

Grenouille is a narcissist and has an abundance of self-love. But he is not a happy person. As he leaves Paris, we learn that all that smelling is actually pretty onerous for Grenouille — it's work, work, work, and mostly unpleasant work. All his life, from his first howl, he has preferred exhaling to inhaling. Which is ironic since his whole life seems to be about inhaling. But what he is mostly inhaling is other people, which makes him cringe and cower.

When Grenouille retreats to his cave and daily "quaffs" his remembered scents, the one that refreshes him and fills his eyes with "tears of bliss" is the memory of his first night off — his first taste of freedom. His method may be strange, but not the memory, and Grenouille is in his own weird way imitating what he imagines is normal human behavior — kicking back on the sofa with a drink and a stack of yearbooks.

Grenouille's murder of the redheaded girl is a crime of lust — that is, all he wanted was to suck up her smell. It is Grenouille's first evil act, and it is easy to see it as evil even though there is nothing like hatred in it. In fact, Grenouille's desire is described remarkably like love: "For a moment he was so confused that for a moment he thought he had never in all his life seen anything so beautiful as this girl... the harmony of all these components yielded a perfume so rich, so balanced, so magical, that every perfume Grenouille had smelled until now...seemed at once to be utterly meaningless.... Grenouille knew for certain that unless he possessed this scent, his life would have no meaning....He wanted to press this apotheosis...on his soul...to think, to live, to smell only according to the innermost structures of its magic formula." Being entirely amoral and antisocial, his solution is to get the inconvenient girl out of the way and take her scent. No qualms, no remorse. He's a human predator preying on other humans. What could be more evil?

Murder isn't a hobby or a compulsion for him, though. Grenouille doesn't kill anybody else, even out of irritation or revenge. At least (view spoiler)

What Grenouille does not appreciate is that there is more to human social behavior than body odor. When he comes down out of the hills after seven years, people take notice. People see his rags, his hair, his malnutrition, and they want to know his story. When he is buffed and powdered and dressed like a gentleman, he looks — even to Grenouille — "unbelievably normal." (view spoiler).

The fluidally obsessed marquis de La Taillade-Espinasse is a comic echo of Grenouille. He also believes he is a genius with a special destiny, and his fluidal theories parody Suskind's premise that human scent is an invisible controlling force. Like the kindnesses of Madame Gaillard, Grimal, and Baldini, the marquis's generosity toward Grenouille is driven entirely by self-interest, but he is also the only one who isn't actually repelled by Grenouille. He seems oblivious to Grenouille's lack of identity (smell), perhaps because he doesn't expect him to have any apart from the influence of his precious fluida. The marquis's requisite bad end also foreshadows Grenouille's.

When Grenouille first wears his new "human" scent (the most hilarious part of the book is his concoction of stinky people perfume), he is scared that people will think he stinks — which is what he thinks of them. It's a strange confusion, like the first time he sees himself in a mirror. He has never been "seen" before, and he is amazed at the experience of being perceived — of the world making space for him and taking notice of his presence in it. He is not only noticed, but trusted and liked. At the moment when Grenouille seems most happily a part of the human family, we see how really evil he is. It's the first time we learn how deeply and totally he hates people, and he goes from amoral to immoral. His special destiny clarifies for him. (view spoiler)

When Grenouille enters Grasse — the perfume capital of the world — he goes straight to the tanning district. Why? Grimal's was terrible. What about the tanneries makes Grenouille feel at home? Maybe it's that first memory of freedom, not of the tannery stink but of "sunrise on the Pont-Royal...where a light breeze bore the blended odors of sea and forest and a touch of the tarry smell of the barges tied up at the bank." Anyway, we are reminded that Grenouille, twisted as he is, is still human.

Antoine Richi is Grenouille's first real opposition. Eerily, Richi is able to get inside Grenouille's head through a combination of business acumen and aesthetic sympathy. We want to like Richi, but his qualities of restrained lechery and cold-blooded ambition remind us that as Grenouille has his not-entirely-evil points, Richi has his not-entirely-good points. The only really innocent characters in the book are the ones we never know — Grenouille's victims.

So, about that ending. First, (view spoiler) Grenouille's powers have their effect. So why is he disappointed? For that, go back to his first outing in his cat-poop human scent, when he asks himself (view spoiler) and he puts off the question, merely telling himself that it is enough that he can do it. What he discovers at his execution is that it is not enough (view spoiler).

So, why, instead of throwing himself in the closest river does he return to his birthplace and (view spoiler). Go back to Laure's beauty and how it makes people want to stop in the street and lick her face. Consider Richi's complex and powerful feelings for his beloved (maturing) daughter. Rationally, Laure is a mere possession, exceptionally precious not for her place in his heart but because she is a valuable item of trade — yet Richi's genuine affection for her springs from another source, presumably, her delicious scent. (view spoiler). Grenouille is, after all, a narcissist. He cannot do anything as banal as drowning himself in water. And he has already been given a dream to go by. He withdraws from life the way he came, crossing the landscape like a ghost and returning to the spot where he was never supposed to have drawn his first breath. (view spoiler)

Linda | 85 comments Longhare wrote: "Sorry about the delay in wrapping this up. I had deadlines all last week and couldn't come out to play.

So, you've read the end and now you're feeling rather uncomfortable. Which, of course, is th..."

Wow, Longhare! What an impressive analysis of this book. I really enjoyed reading it, and it gives me much more to think about overall, thank you so much. I like the beehive and pheromone analogy, so now the (view spoiler). I can see myself going back and rereading this book again, while having all of this to chew on.

message 40: by Buck (new) - rated it 4 stars

Buck (spectru) I did not read this, yet. It has generated so much discussion, how could I not?

Longhare Content | 107 comments C'mon, Buck. It's never too late!

Christine Longhare wrote: "Sorry about the delay in wrapping this up. I had deadlines all last week and couldn't come out to play.

So, you've read the end and now you're feeling rather uncomfortable. Which, of course, is th..."

Thank you - that has given me a greater understanding of the book now.

message 43: by Buck (last edited Aug 26, 2018 07:23AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Buck (spectru) Longhare wrote: "C'mon, Buck. It's never too late!"

I finished it tonight, only four years past due.

It starts with an interesting premise which develops into an increasingly absurd tale. Towards the end it it becomes increasingly preposterous. And yet, it isn't so outlandish that it becomes laughable. It reels us in, and we follow along, enthralled.

I did think it kind of fell apart at the end. He was so calm and cooperative at his arrest. I knew that he knew he would not be executed. Being olfactorily impaired myself, I can't imagine scents, even pheromones, having such a wild effect on a crowd. After climbing this bizarre hill to its apex, I found the climax to be a bit of a let down. The discussion above is enlightening in that regard.

message 44: by Buck (last edited Aug 26, 2018 06:56AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Buck (spectru) There was a passage that caught my attention as Grenouille arrives at the place of his execution and is surrounded by the crowd. “It was as if the man had ten thousand invisible hands and had laid a hand on the genitals of the ten thousand people surrounding him and fondled them in just the way that each of them, whether man or woman, desired in his or her most secret fantasies.” It strained my credulity that a scent could have such an overwhelming effect on people. And then I thought maybe there is something to it. There is a certain American personage who loves to surround himself with adoring throngs. Maybe this is how he does it.

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