on July 10, 2003
Tom Robbins is a writer without an equal in this world today. He
has helped me deal with "reality" and keep my "sanity". He has
more insightful sightings, and ingenious prophecies than any
of the other writers I've read. You must read ALL his books,like I have, countless times, in order to get all his messages! There is no other other writers, besides Gilda Radner, that can make you cry at the begining of a paragraph,
then laugh off your seat at the end. He is also an expert on health, especially with the hot baths and cold rinse, it is a
medical standard, I'm an EMT and working on a paramedic, then doctor's degree. I feel sorry for anyone that hasn't shared his
joyous scribes, and I suggest you run to your nearest library
to enrich your imagination!! As I said before, he's an expert
in this book, with his message of heating and cooling your blood. It's cured me, along with the belly laughs that no other
other writer can give me, and believe me, I've read ALL of them. Three cheers and many, many, thanks to this very insightful man for sharing his ideas with the rest of the world.
Thanks again, a Godzillion times, for sharing your thoughts with
the rest of us in our hopeless, pitiful world. Kathleen Krol
on February 11, 2004
I'm sorry if I don't wax all eloquent and stuff about all the stuff I love in this book, so I guess nobody will find my review helpful. that's okay. you won't hurt my feelings. I still love this book. It's all about his words and the order he puts them in. it makes me wish I could speak as beautifully as he does. but I'm just a birdygirl.
on November 3, 2011
The completely linear thinker; the person who demands a beginning middle and end, complete with protagonist, threatening antagonist and the girl and riches our hero gets at the end will either be mildly annoyed or intensely frustrated at the plot. There is a storyline, to be sure, but it isn't as important as what Robbins is actually saying.
It took me one read-through to satisfy my curiosity. I thought "where is this going? And what does perfume and beets have to do with any of it?". Even that first exploration of the novel opened my third eye - the one I didn't know was even there.
Once the basic plot was understood, a second read-through was undertaken. Then a third, and a fourth. Slowly, the perfume in its pages seeped into my consciousness, and the resulting joyous epiphany became evident. This was more than a book about an ancient king named Alobar. It transcended Pan. It detested the "logic" inherent in the western lexicon. It objected strenuously at the fallacies we accept as true, the assumptions we mistakenly adopt in our walk through life.
The book enlightens as gleefully as it promotes an unapologetic lust - or blush, depending upon the reader's sensitivity. In short it embraces life on a scale that no other book I've read has been able to approach, before or since.
on June 7, 2004
At times, this book made me howl with laughter. The above quote is just one specific example. Extracted from the story, it's typical of Robbins' mind-blowing descriptive narrative. It hails from the "New Orleans" sections of the book, which detail the poignant relationship between an eccentric French Quarter dame and her assistant V'lu, an astute African-American Creole with an accent that shakes the rafters.
I had read "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" and "Still Life with Woodpecker." It seemed that each of these novels came into my life at the most appropriate of times, helping me through some rough patches, and always, invariably, reminding me not to take life too seriously as I am want to do. "Jitterbug", however, made me weep. Yes, there's a lot packed in this book. Yes, Robbins metaphors get a little heavy-handed at times. However, the story is woven so cleverly, the descriptions so lucid, I felt as if I was a part of the book. And, afterall, isn't that the point of literature, to reel us in? As usual, after reading his work, I am forever slightly altered in my chemical makeup. Knowing that I will read the book again if I begin to backslide into jadedness, paranoia, or recalcitrant routines.
Read this book. Even if you don't enjoy Robbins, it will give you such food for thought that you will have to at least tip your proverbial hat at the cleverness of his prose. Where does this guy come up with these ideas? Could we be in the company of one of the great spirits of all time with Robbins? Can I acquire such colorful language and attitudes? I certainly hope so.
No philosophical, political, or sociological stone is left unturned. As usual, Robbins is in rare, if not always palatable, form. I adore him! I also understand that others may have as much disdain or disinterest in his work, as I have affection. That's a good thing. I do believe that Tom Robbins would begin to worry if he gained widespread acclaim. And that, my friends, is what makes him so sublime.
on May 7, 2004
I read this novel the first time in my late teens and discovered a compelling and complex story intricately crafted in many layers, heaped, one upon the other. A few years later, I used the book for a paper on the biblical and mythological foundations of English literature. The story is overflowing with overt and covert references to things spiritual, religious and mythological, covering ground from ancient India, Egypt, Greece and Rome to modern day. (My "unorthodox" book selection did bemuse my elderly male professor, used to papers on Shakespeare or Milton, but nonetheless pulled off an A-minus.)
It is, as the editorial description says, an epic saga and touches on many topics including spirituality, nature, true love, the best [physical relations], everlasting life and the importance of the humble beet. (Ah yes, the beet - that large, reddish purple root vegetable, staining the lips and the tips of fingers with its deep, life affirming and luscious redness...)
(...) Yes. Well. It is rather difficult to explain how beets fit into the equation, so I suggest you consider reading the book and then you'll understand completely. ;-)
on April 7, 2004
I love this book so much I have to read it at least once a year. I've enjoyed all of Tom Robbins' other books, but this is by far my favorite. If I ever go through a slump of not reading, I can pull this book out and be back in the mood. The different plotlines are woven together so well, that even though I may think at the end of a section "oh, I wanted more about Alobar and Kudra now" I am immediately caught up in whichever character's story has taken over. You see very early on how all the characters are linked, and the way the whole thing unfolds never gets old for me. I find this book to be hilarious, imaginative, thought-provoking, inspirational, and very hopeful. I know that every re-read will end with a smile and a sense of fulfillment. I have recommended this book to every person who has ever asked me about something to read. In fact, I buy every thrift store copy I ever come across (and I can never believe that someone got rid of this book), so I have extra copies around to give to people who haven't read it. Jitterbug Perfume makes me happy every time I read it so I feel compelled to share the experience with everyone else! Enjoy!
on January 27, 2003
This is my first Robbins' reading, recommended by a good friend with great taste in books. This book has just about everything I could ever ask for in a read: amazing, memorable characters that are so strange and unique that they feel all too real; dialouge lovingly rendered for each character; a wild ride across the globe, through history, customs, food, clothing, mating rituals, social class, and mythology; an amazingly intricate and creative plot that eventually ties up in the end; and finally, a grand theme that serves as the foundation to this whole wonderful, wild, imaginative, freeing ride.
One gets the feeling that Robbins had a grand time writing this book. I was laughing out loud on one page, underlining passages of exquisite wisdom the next. Everything flows so naturally; the feel of this book is LIGHT, airy, featherweight. Yet like a drone or mantra, its rhythm and texture winds its way into you until you have been relaxed by Robbins' prose into another mindscape: HIS, or perhaps, yours, expanded.
Robbins is a master of metaphors. And comedy. And when he combines the two, you WILL be re-reading passages wondering "how did he do that?" Robbins is truly a master and has a strong, unique, comedic, wise, wild, creative voice. Highly recommended. I guess I will soon be reading "Jitterbug Perfume" for a second, third, fourth, etc. time.
on November 2, 2002
Damn, if Tom Robbins' "Jitterbug Perfume" isn't one of the most original, beautifully written books I've ever discovered! It is a novel that manages to be classical, comical, and comtemporary at the same time. To say that the plot involves a century-hoping effort to bottle and market the spirit of youth is like saying "Being John Malcovich" is the story of an actor's life.
Part of what makes this book irresistable is its clever and lyrical language. Robbins describes a character getting out of a spring this way: "when he surfaced, spewing and sputtering, dead leaves and the addresses of a dozen hibernating frogs strewn throughout his beard...". He describes one character's internal experience this way: "... inside her swelling head... a music was rising, a happiness was rising; her dumpy old heart was rising, made buoyant and girlish again, a lost beach ball blown miles across a levee, illuminated by heat lightening."
The book is amazing, really. I'm not sure I've ever seen a more unusual plot handled so deftly, or read a book with as full a canvas of unusual characters and locations. Most of all, the language will keep you hooked from sentence to sentence. There could be no plot at all and you would still keep reading.
on October 3, 2002
_Jitterbug Perfume_ is Tom Robbins' droll, absurdist, and often hallucinatory vision of man's continual quest for eternal youth and immortality. Wiggs Dannyboy, a Timothy Leary-like man (with an Irish brogue which keeps fading in and out) theorizes that humans have evolved from the brutish reptile, to the higher level mammal, to finally the highest plane of all: flower loving creatures, motivated by their olifactory powers, who no longer believe in violence and war. He hypothesizes that people with the greatest longevity have, among other traits, abolished death and dying from their lexicon. He also gives strong credence to the restorative powers of flowers and other odors. Dannyboy utilizes as his paragon Alobar, a former king, whom he meets while both of them are serving time in prison. Both Alobar and his equally youthful wife, Kudra, have already been living a thousand years and both, in their earlier years, escaped execution: King Alobar due to showing signs of aging and Kudra, narrowingly escaping ritual burning because of the death of her first husband. A Parisian perfumer and a New Orleans perfume retailer hope to recreate the scintillating, elusive, and soon to prove very significant odor of the few drops of perfume (formulated by Kudra many years before) still remaining in an ancient and exotic bottle that was recently retrieved from the sea, and which had the likeness of Pan, the Greek God of the woodlands and the flocks on it.
Tom Robbins works on a vast canvas. The novel begins in Europe during the Dark Ages, then journeys to India, then back to Bohemia. The contemporary sections of the book transport the reader to Paris and New Orleans and back. The author deftly recounts the various myths and legends of ancient times related to love, sex, longevity, and the negative impact of religious influences. Pan figures strongly throughout the book, although Pan has been slowly fading from existence due to the public's loss of interest in him. In the old days Pan had an allegedly stimulating sexual affect on those he passed by while serenading them on his flute. The final irony is that although Pan eventually fades altogether in the modern world, his influence still remains strong, as does the desire to enhance one's youthfulness and sexual attraction.
on February 6, 2002
There are two kinds of "best selling" author.
The first type skillfully produces high level pabulum meant to numb the mind and induce a pleasant state of catatonic cognitive suspension in the reader (which explains the scourge of Danville Steel).
The other kind has the ability to transport us to worlds beyond our imagination, to make us see things we've never seen, to contemplate the meaning of life, and so on. Each generation produces one or two of the second type. Tom Robbins is one of these.
All of Robbins novels have graced the bet seller list for quite a length of time, which speaks to their universal appeal. Most of his major works, Another Roadside Attraction, Even Cowgirls get the Blues, Still Life with Woodpecker, Skinny Legs and All, and Jitterbug Perfume have attained the status of "cult classic" as well-each with its own unique audience. I know of no other author that this can be said of.
Which makes Robbins a one-of-a-kind type of author as well.
In my opinion, Jitterbug Perfume is Robbins masterpiece. A novel of epic proportions, a story of great breadth, and amazing, extraordinary, eternally memorable characters, Jitterbug Perfume took my breath away.
This is the seminal work of a unique, Monstrous talent.
Treat yourself to the best. Read this book.