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Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

Jitterbug Perfume (1984)

by Tom Robbins

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,87071950 (4.16)145
  1. 70
    Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins (jennyl.keen)
  2. 40
    American Gods by Neil Gaiman (jennyl.keen)
  3. 10
    The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherrill (Littlemissbashful)
    Littlemissbashful: Two books with two different takes on what happens to the old Gods and creatures of myth we leave behind. Tom Robbins delivers the usual multi-stranded story interwoven with flights of fantasy and a meditation on the 'seriousness of beats' while 'The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break' is the more low key minimalist story.… (more)
  4. 10
    Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut (Alialibobali)
  5. 00
    Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (Alialibobali)

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» See also 145 mentions

English (70)  German (1)  All (71)
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
Alobar, a Bohemian tribal king from the 11th century, is fated to die; but not if he has anything to say about it! His search to relegate death as an option, as opposed to a certainty, is the baseline plot of this story. An absurdist novel with fantastical elements, vulgar sexual references, and didactic passages streamed directly from the author's frenzied mind, TR is something of an acquired taste. While not for everyone, his clever simile-riven prose would appeal to others. ( )
1 vote Tanya-dogearedcopy | Aug 28, 2016 |
Tom Robbins is a renowned writer, although I'm not sure who renowned by. This is my second book by him. I liked the first one and had high hopes for this one, maybe to high.

Alobar is born in ancient times, times where ones life expectancy is not that high. Priscilla is a young girl trying to find the right perfume recipe to make it rich, as are many others in the book.

Ok here is my problem with this book. I didn't find it funny what so ever. There were a few places where I "chuckled" but that was about it. I never had a spot that was hilarious. I actually wanted to punch some of the characters at times.

I think Robbins is not for me. I'm over this author really. I tried. Enough for me. ( )
  welkeral | Mar 20, 2016 |
One of my top 10 favourite books of all time. Want to read again to capture that je ne sais que feeling I had reading it for the first time. ( )
1 vote anglophile65 | Mar 8, 2016 |
A powerful and righteous 8th century king named Alobar narrowly escapes regicide at the hands of his own subjects, as it is their custom to kill the king at the first sign of aging. After fleeing, no longer a king but a simple peasant, he travels through Eurasia, and eventually meets the goat-god Pan, who is slowly losing his powers as the world turns toward Christianity. In India, he bumps into the child incarnation of his former wife, Wren. The girl, Kudra, goes on to become his wife. As with most of Robbins' couples, their mutual libido is enormous, and their love quite like something out of a fairy tale.

After an encounter with a mysterious group known as "The Bandaloop Doctors" Alobar is set down the path towards eternal life (which, according to Robbins, can be attained by a consistent ritual of controlled breath work, simple eating, sex, and bathing). Alobar and Kudra, successful in their immortality, prance about Europe until the 18th century, when they attempt a sort of new transcendental meditation and become separated into different astral planes.

Meanwhile, in present-day, a "genius waitress" named Priscilla struggles with a difficult job in a low-end Mexican restaurant. Priscilla is an amateur perfumer, and is obsessed with trying to locate a base note for her new fragrance, something she believes will be almost magical, a fragrance she discovered in the gift of a three-hundred-year-old bottle. While dealing with this, she also juggles the unwanted advances of a lesbian co-worker, a brief affair with an eccentric millionaire obsessed with life extension, and a mysterious stranger who keeps delivering beets to her apartment.

In New Orleans, Priscilla's stepmother, the Madame Devalier, is a successful perfumer, and is also working on a fragrance of her own, intent on taking on the big companies of Paris. She also seeks something magical — the ultra-fragrant jasmine from a mysterious man with the helmet of swarming bees, Bingo Pajama.

In Paris, the LeFever Parfumaire is concerned about their eccentric leader, Marcel, who equates smell as the most important factor in the forward movement of the evolutionary process. After witnessing an eclipse, he is obsessed with his own scent.

The story lines eventually converge into a climax in New Orleans, with a brief stop in another dimension. The main message is summarized in the cryptic Erleichda, loosely translated as "lighten up".

1 vote bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
This is a story that begins in the forests of medieval Bohemia and doesn’t end until nine o’clock tonight (Paris time). Also, there are beets on nearly every page. Alobar is the ruler of a small kingdom whose tradition is for the king to commit ritual suicide at the first sign of old age. When his first gray hairs appear, Alobar decides he isn’t ready to die. After escaping his fate, he travels to Asia in search of the secret to immortality. Along the way he meets Kudra, a young woman who also isn’t ready to die by throwing herself on her husband’s funeral pyre as is tradition in India. Together they discover the secret to immortality and spend the next thousand years moving around enough to keep people from getting suspicious about their everlasting youth. Interspersed with their story are the stories of three twentieth-century perfumers in Seattle, New Orleans, and Paris.

I really liked this book, but I didn’t love it. It was very funny and thought-provoking at the same time, although I can see how this type of book wouldn’t be enjoyed by everybody. I can’t come up with any real weaknesses other than the fact that while it was very good, it never absolutely blew me away. I’ll definitely be reading more of Robbins’ books.

Some quotes that I particularly liked:

“The gods have a great sense of humor, don’t they? If you lack the iron and the fizz to take control of your own life, if you insist on leaving your fate to the gods, then the gods will repay your weakness by having a grin or two at your expense. Should you fail to pilot your own ship, don’t be surprised at what inappropriate port you find yourself docked … The price of self-destiny is never cheap, and in certain situations it is unthinkable. But to achieve the marvelous, it is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought.”

“His stay at the lamasery had become a rut, a tranquil, nourishing, educational rut that had done him little harm and much good, but a rut, nonetheless; his wheel was stuck in a ditch of light, so to speak, and he felt an overpowering urge to steer in the direction of darkness. If the earth needs night as well as day, wouldn’t it follow that the soul requires endarkenment to balance enlightenment?”

“The highest function of love is that it makes the loved one a unique and irreplaceable being.”

“… they were straining so desperately for admission to paradise that they had forgotten that paradise had always been their address.” ( )
1 vote AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tom Robbinsprimary authorall editionscalculated
LePere, LeslieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Donna and the Water Music
And for those whose letters I still haven't answered.
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The beet is the most intense of vegetables.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Obowiązkowa lektura dla miłośników „Pachnidła” Patricka Süskinda, a zarazem kolejne dzieło amerykańskiego prześmiewcy, autora m.in. książek: "Martwa natura z dzięciołem", "Na wpół uśpieni w żabich piżamach", "Kalekie dzikusy z gorących krajów" oraz kultowej, sfilmowanej przez Gusa Van Santa z Umą Thurman w roli głównej "I kowbojki mogą marzyć". 

„Perfumy w rytmie jitterbuga” to powieść, której akcja rozpoczyna się w lasach dawnych Czech, a kończy dziś o dziewiątej wieczorem (czasu paryskiego). Bohater książki, dozorca, poszukuje pewnej butelki, niebieskiej, baaardzo starej i ozdobionej wizerunkiem bożka o kozich rogach. Jeżeli znajdujący się w niej płyn to faktycznie sekretna esencja wszechświata, jak uważają poniektórzy, dozorca musi się pośpieszyć, gdyż butelka cieknie i pozostała w niej ledwie kropla lub dwie. 

"W powieści „Perfumy w rytmie jitterbuga” znajdziemy plejadę niecodziennych postaci, zafascynowanych nieśmiertelnością oraz perfumami. Warto samemu sprawdzić, dlaczego ta książka jest fascynująca, a przy tym gwarantuje świetną zabawę". "The Washington Post" 

[Zysk i S-ka, 2004]
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553348981, Paperback)

Jitterbug Perfume
is an epic.

Which is to say, it begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and doesn’t conclude until nine o’clock tonight (Paris time).

It is a saga, as well. A saga must have a hero, and the hero of this one is a janitor with a missing bottle.

The bottle is blue, very, very old, and embossed with the image of a goat-horned god.

If the liquid in the bottle actually is the secret essence of the universe, as some folks seem to think, it had better be discovered soon because it is leaking and there is only a drop or two left.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:37 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Jitterbug Perfume is an epic. which is to say, it begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and doesn't conclude until nine o'clock tonight [Paris time]. It is a saga, as well. A saga must have a hero, and the hero of this one is a janitor with a missing bottle. The bottle is blue, very, very old, and embossed with the image of a goat-horned god. If the liquid in the bottle is actually is the secret essence of the universe, as some folks seem to think, it had better be discovered soon because it is leaking and there is only a drop of two left.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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