Finished Perfume by Patrick Suskind, translated from the German by John Woods.
I was first introduced to this story via the film adaptation a few years ago. I loved it, despite the creepy finger-smelling baby in the beginning (see the trailer below. CREEPY.), so I was excited to see the novel was on the Guardian's list.
I usually don't care for reading the novel AFTER seeing the film. I prefer the reverse. But despite already knowing what happens in the end (SPOILER ALERT: there's an orgy!), the book was still mesmerizing and unputdownable.
There isn't a single likeable character. Suskind reveals all the worst aspects of humanity. Everyone Suskind depicts are depraved, dumb, selfish, and apparently smell like cat shit and cheese. Lovely. And yet, we still can't sympathize with their murderer. After all, he's killing 12-year old girls so he can smell them. Yikes!
In fact, maybe I shouldn't have started reading American Psycho alongside this book. I'm slowly losing my faith in humanity.
Regardless, it's a luscious novel, filled with interesting and realistic, albeit unlikeable, characters. Not really a quoteable book...perhaps due to it being a translation, the writing gets the job done of telling the story, but not much else. The story is the masterpiece, not the writing. But here's a section I liked, just for fun:
He did not need light to see by. Even before, when he was traveling by day, he had often closed his eyes for hours on end and merely followed his nose*. The gaudy landscape, the dazzling abrupt definition of sight hurt his eyes. He was delighted only by moonlight. Moonlight knew no colors and traced the contours of the terrain only very softly. It covred the land with a dirty gray, strangling life all night long. This world molded in lead, where nothing moved but the wind that fell sometimes like a shadow over the gray forests, and where nothing lived but the scent of the naked earth, was the only world that he accepted, for it was much like the world of his soul.
*Fun Fact: I almost used a picture of Toucan Sam at the top, but decided to be classy.
But apparently the novel has inspired quite a few musicians. So, Youtube time! All of these songs were directly inspired by the book.
Warning: the Rammstein video is...well, it's a Rammstein video. So what do you expect? If you suspected a guy in a dress turning into a dozen white wolves, then you're correct.