Das Story Time: Jack the Giant Killer

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This book was different and brilliant. The story of an orphaned boy born without a scent, but with an incredibly refined sense of smell, the book drags a bit in parts, but the ends justify the means, in more ways than one. All things considered, the book is a valentine to the beauty, elegance, and power of smell.

A truly underrated sense, Suskind reminds the reader of just how powerful an effect our sense of smell can have. Although Jean-Baptiste Grenouille one of the great names in contemporary This book was different and brilliant. Although Jean-Baptiste Grenouille one of the great names in contemporary fiction 's amazing sense of smell seems the sort of thing that is unquantifiable in most any medium, Suskind makes it work perfectly.

His vivid descriptions almost evoke the smells he is describing into reality, and his characterization of Grenouille is nothing short of perfect. Grenouille is, of course, an abhorrent, vicious, loathsome character, and Suskind takes great pains to point this out literally at various intervals throughout the story. However, despite his actions and the way he is described, Suskind cleverly says one thing and shows another, presenting Grenouille as the unquestioned hero of the story, allowing him to come across as, at the very least, sympathetic if not pitiable , and at most, a man whose single-minded drives and desires leads to the reader outright rooting for him to succeed in his horrific acts.

As the subtitle of the book is 'The Story of a Murderer', I don't think it gives anything away to say that the book climaxes in the brutal murders of 25 women that Grenouille uses to create the most perfect smelling perfume the world has ever known. Despite all the difficulties Grenouille encounters, all the opposition and roadblocks and it's indisputably true that Grenouille was dealt a bad hand in life , he still takes his lumps admirably and never wavers from his pursuit of his dream, which, at its heart, is something I think everyone aspires to be able to do.

Furthermore, when Grenouille finally does achieve his dream, he is heartbroken to discover that, after everything, it was not what he'd envisioned. Sadly, I think that is something people can relate to as well. And so it is that the story of a murderer ends up as something everyone can relate to. One of the ways Suskind is able to so perfectly pull this off is to disassociate Grenouille from these abhorrent acts. Throughout the story, we see only Grenouille striving and working hard to achieve his goal.

Then, at the cusp of putting it into motion, the story suddenly changes perspective from the actions of Grenouille to their aftermath and the perspective of the local townspeople. It's a jarring and effective method that allows the reader to still root for Grenouille, as they still are very much aware that Grenouille is responsible for these horrific actions, but disassociates him from the brutality of them by only speaking of them in an offhand manner i. All that said, the end of the book is insane, but wonderfully so. It's completely out of left field and it's almost hard to accept that what is happening is real and not some sort of dream which it isn't.

The reader is left waiting for the moment when Grenouille opens his eyes and we're told what really happened, but it never comes. Compared to the climax, the end of the story almost makes perfect sense, when in any other story it would be seen as equally insane, if not more so. But don't let it detract you from reading the book. It's true, you'll either love it or hate it, but no matter what you'll be unable to say it wasn't worthwhile.

View all 10 comments. Due to a bit of a cold lately, I couldn't smell the cinnamon sprinkled on my Frothy Coffee, nor the aromas of fresh croissants walking past the patisserie, or the preparation of an evening meal consisting of mussels cooked in garlic butter. I love these smells, they are just as important to me as taste, damn this cold!

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No interest though in Due to a bit of a cold lately, I couldn't smell the cinnamon sprinkled on my Frothy Coffee, nor the aromas of fresh croissants walking past the patisserie, or the preparation of an evening meal consisting of mussels cooked in garlic butter. No interest though in hunting virgins for their scent thank God.

His frenzied obsession for odours guides him in a ghastly perverse way to search for the lost origin of his identity. A genius of aroma, Grenouille himself lacks a personal odor, signifying an absence of individual identity, but never mind, he can just go about stealing that of others. As he discovers his olfactory virtuosity, he becomes increasingly obsessed with inventing new fragrances, particularly his own, which he attempts to create artificially by extracting and blending the corporeal scents of young virginal women he murders.

His great hope is to create the ideal perfume that will give him the magical essence of identity. He despises the rest of mankind, but still is solely driven by a desire for the attention and affection of others, he wants to be top dog, the hell with everybody else.

Jack the Giant Killer

At the moment of his crowning glory, however, Grenouille knows that the aura of identity created by his magic perfume is an illusion, and that it has been hate rather than love that drove him to become a genius of perfuming. After this epiphany, Grenouille goes barking mad, and surrenders himself to a gory finale. This book was good, I enjoyed it for the most part, but for me, it wasn't great, as viewed by a lot of others.

And the repetitive prose and unfocused paragraphs had me skimming the odd page here and there. I can see why it has had big appeal, because on the surface, the premise is so startlingly different, so kudos there, and he gets a range of emotions from sympathy when a filthy young orphan, to disgust and hatred when he starts his murderous quest. Even tough the chilling horrors of Grenouille's actions are painted in such realistic tones, the novel on the whole never really got under my skin as I thought it would, it's good in places but pretentious in others, and summing up the central character he was just too two-dimensional for my liking.

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Not the sort of book I would normally read, so at least it was a break from the norm. Although I am still a long way off wondering around in grandpa slippers, I felt this novel was maybe intended for a younger audience. Forget the fish guts, cow hide, boiled puppy and dead virgins, I will stick to the mint, lavender, bergamot, sandalwood and tonka bean of Jean Paul Gaultier.


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View all 32 comments. There are some books which can be called unique. They may be good, bad or indifferent: but their authors strike out from the trodden paths of narrative themes and structure to explore totally new vistas, so that the product becomes unique. Perfume by Patrick Suskind is such a book. Jean Baptiste Grenouille is "an abominable and gifted personage, in an era which was not lacking in abominable and gifted personages". Born a bastard in the stinking heart of the city of Paris in the eighteenth century There are some books which can be called unique.

Born a bastard in the stinking heart of the city of Paris in the eighteenth century under a gutting table, the first cry he utters sends his mother to the scaffold for abandoning an infant.

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Grenouille grows up by sucking many wet nurses dry, survives the horrendous childhood of an orphan in an age without mercy, and grows up to become a successful perfumer. For this is his unique gift: the child who does not emit any smell himself is blessed with extraordinary olfactory capabilities, which allows him to recognise, separate and catalogue in his mind all the different odours he comes into contact with. But simple identification is not enough for Jean.

He is driven by the insatiable urge to possess any smell he likes for himself; he will move heaven and earth to extract it from its origin, make a perfume out of it and keep it with him.

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He is not bothered that the object which originates the smell will be destroyed in the process of extraction: he is a "smell-vampire". And like a vampire, it is the smell of virgins which drives him wild. Ultimately, Grenouille's gift and single-minded obsession proves to be the cause of both his uplift and undoing Suskind has written a gripping novel which will hook and pull the reader in from the first sentence onwards.

However, this is not a simple horror story or thriller: it has got layers of meaning hidden beneath one another which will come out on careful reading. Jean Baptiste Grenouille is a masterly creation. His insatiable thirst for smells makes him a truly terrifying "collector": one who cannot enjoy his passion the normal way, but must possess the object of his desire I was reminded of Frederick Clegg in John Fowles' "The Collector" completely.

The fact that he lacks a characteristic odour himself enhances his vampiric nature. Also, all the people who profit from him come to a grisly end, like the poor misguided souls who make a pact with the devil. Joseph Campbell has made the slogan "Follow your bliss" very popular - but how to know whether your bliss is good or bad? I have always wondered about the concept of "negative bliss". Both Gandhi and Hitler could have been said to be following their bliss in different ways.

While reading this novel, I was struck by the realisation that the difference is in one's attitude. If one is doing it because one cannot be doing anything else - following one's karma, if you want to put it that way - then it is bliss. But if one is driven by an insatiable need which feeds on itself, one ends up being a vampire. Ultimately, it consumes oneself.

Highly recommended. View all 14 comments.

Shelves: modernfiction , recommended. I'd like to make something very clear with my review of this book. I normally don't go overboard with the whole "the movie vs. But this is a case where I have to speak out. I admire lots of books but I wouldn't say this about any old novel.

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The movie "Perfume" makes an utte I'd like to make something very clear with my review of this book. The movie "Perfume" makes an utter mockery of this artwork, its incredible language even in translation and its profoundly disturbing character. The movie is to this book what a smudge of dirt is to a brilliant, glowing star. The movie not only fails to capture the depth and profundity of the prose but also of its unique darkness and unsettling moral bleakness.

He lacks a fundamental concept of agency in other people, who are essentially conveyors or producers of smells and nothing more. He kills, not with any idea of transgression, but simply as he would break an object in order to smell it. In this he is far more terrifying than any serial killer or other contrived "evil" character, and the story of his incredible and absurd life leaves one with a deep darkness that takes a long time to dissipate after the novel is closed and shelved or passed on.

The movie, as I saw it, conveyed none of this existentially disturbing character, but merely his salient features; i.