Book Review: PERFUME, THE STORY OF A MURDERER
By David Tam
Once upon a time in France, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born into a harsh world. Forget about love and human kindness; everyone is out for himself or herself. Especially when it comes to Grenouille, because he has no soul--or so people believe, because he has no scent. He doesn't smell bad, like the fish market he's born in, or good, like a baby generally does--he doesn't smell of anything. Moreover, he freaks people out. As far as they're concerned, he shouldn't even exist. One of his nursemaids calls him a vampire, and this is more accurate than she knows, because once Grenouille realizes he can distill people's scents, he decides to steal them for himself. And by people it mean beautiful young virgins, he had a total way of appreciating the world is through the unique sense of smell that HE has. For he can recognize any object or person by smell, and this is what feeds his soul and sets his identity - that is until the day he encounters a wholly new intoxicating smell.
One of the foundation element of the story is `smell, The novel Perfume starts slowly, the author used pages and pages of descriptions of smells, odor and every scent in Paris that you might be able to think of. Scent is, of course, a hugely evocative sense, and this forms the basis of the novel, however, reader is not convinced, the essence of smell cannot be described with pen and ink. But through a slow pace, these descriptive pages are compelling. It is easy to describe the appearance of things, but there are all the other senses, and Süskind has chosen to focus on one not widely used in literature- the essence of smell.
Besides the essence of smell, the main charcter -Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, iswho ought to look after the infant Grenouille are repelled by him in ways they cannot describe, other than that he smells of nothing. Yet his own nose is remarkable, able to identify the subtlest scents, and this one sense...