Friday, August 15, 2014

Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins

I wasn't a huge fan of Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, but Jitterbug Perfume has become such an iconic book that I felt I had to give it a chance on the strength of the recommendations I've gotten from people who loved it, and I'm happy to say that I enjoyed it.

In a lot of ways this is just the type of book I'm looking for when I've been reading a lot of intense, srsbzns stuff -- it's whimsical, irreverent, and overall on the light-hearted side, but still well-written and possessed of a unique, intriguing plot and interesting, well-rounded characters.

Which is not to say that the plot and characters aren't all patently absurd; they absolutely are. But what makes them (as well as Robbins' quirky, weirdly floral language) work is that it's all built on top of and in service to some very well-thought out and carefully crafted themes (immortality/the after life, the role of smell/scent in the human experience, juxtaposition of biology & spirituality, juxtaposition of old world & new world). Even reading some of the most ridiculous, slapstick scenes in the book, they still came across as clever & "worked" because I could see why they were there & how they fit into the overall structure & logic of the story. (This is the part I felt was missing in Fierce Invalids, so the absurd/slapstick/goofy parts just felt dumb.)

(Also, I really just adored the whole Alobar & Kudra thread. They were so sweet together!)

So yeah; definitely enjoyed JP enough that I'm willing to give Tom Robbins a third go. A quick, fun read if you're in the mood for something a little quirky & irreverent but still clever & well-written.

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