Let’s get this out of the way now (if you don’t watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you won’t get the reference. Sorry.):
This is part of a conversation I had with the friend who put me on to Perfume by Patrick Süskind. She has read it numerous times and loves it. The first part of the conversation refers to the fact that I’ve seen Perfume on a few book lists labeled as horror, but it’s not a horror novel at all. I mean, the main character does deplorable things, but it’s just not Stephen King-type stuff. I’m actually not sure what genre I would peg Perfume as…literary fiction? Thriller (not really)? Suspense (again, not really)? Historical literary fiction? That’s probably the closest I can get.
The second part of that conversation is about the main character, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. He and Dennis Reynolds from It’s Always Sunny are basically the same person, personality-wise. They are both sociopaths, they are both manipulative (in their own ways), and they both think that women are good for only one thing (although they both have different opinions about what that thing is).
The last several pages of the book have Grenouille feeling a certain kind of way about himself, which really brings home the Dennis comparison…
Seriously, Dennis and Grenouille are both fucking awful people.
Anyway, despite my feelings about Grenouille, his story is one of real unhappiness, and regardless of why that unhappiness exists, I do feel bad for him on some level (the common plight of the empath–feeling bad for/with people even if it’s not deserved).
Also, the parts about Grenouille’s superhuman olfactory curse are really unnerving. As someone with an already pretty sensitive sense of smell, I can imagine what a nightmare that would be.
With all that said, I loved the book. I can’t necessarily pinpoint one thing I loved about it, but I gave it five stars on Goodreads. I’d definitely read it again. And my friend and I will be watching the movie adaptation together soon, so I’ll write about that at some point, too.