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 Post subject: Perfume
PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2006 2:26 am 
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I finally got round to reading Patrick Süskind's "Perfume".
It had been on my shelf a few years, but when the movie came out I thought I'd better read it in case I'd be going to see the movie.
I haven't watched the movie, but I did make it through the whole book, which in itself is quite astonishing to me. It means I didn't dislike it - but I also find myself wondering what made it such an enormous success.

Not only was it a national bestseller for months, it was translated into English (a rare occurrence for a German book) and apparently was a big hit on the British and American markets as well. I even know one or two people who've read it, so I thought that there's a chance someone here might have read it, too.

I'd be very curious to hear how you liked it and what made it interesting for you!


My own little review (MINOR SPOILERS):

The biggest problem with the book for me is the sheer impossibility of the plot. That was just too much strain for my disbelief suspenders to support.
What is it with German authors and stories about completely impossibly "gifted" characters? And why do people like them? (Another past bestseller that I read one or two years ago, "Brother of Sleep", had a very similar main character - not a killer, but someone who's just physically impossible.)

Before picking it up I had heard that it was rather creepy. There was one creepy part, pretty early on, which seemed promising. However, when two-thirds into the book still nothing much had happened, I began to realise that creepiness was not the aim of the book.
That accepted, I of course wondered what the aim was. It can't have been the main character because there's nothing about him that could tell us much. (As I think was intended. ;) )
I think it might be the other people - sometimes scenes about the behaviour of the people around the main character were interesting (though mostly they were predictable and repetitive).

It is always a problem for me when I can't like a character. The author here made pretty sure you wouldn't. That was actually quite interesting. I have an urge to try to like the main character. If it's impossible simply because of the way he's like, not because that's what the author wants, I'll just put away the book. But here, the author took care to remind you explicitly again and again that you were not supposed to try.

The writing was effective. Even though there were some inexplicable choices of bad language, on the whole it read smoothly and fluently, and the general structure was good.

I liked the ending - there was more poetic justice in it than I'd have expected.

On the whole, I think it's an ok book, with some interesting ideas and techniques. But I wonder what would make so many people so enthusiastic about it.

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but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed.


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