Perfume: the Story of a Murderer written by German playwright/ author Patrick Süskind is without a doubt the greatest, sickest book to ever come out of Germany since the rough draft of the Guttenberg Bible with alternate ending (spoiler alert: THERE IS NO GOD).
WHAT? You’re telling me up until this point you never heard of Süskind nor of his apotheosis-level masterpiece? Are you trying to say you were one of those basic motherfuckers who assumed Nietzsche or that punk-ass Kafka were the pinnacle of German literature?
WHAT ARE YOU, A LOSER?
Name one other novel that starts off with the author telling the reader that the main character, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, is quite literally one of the most abominable persons to ever crawl out of an evil-infested vagina. He even states that he’s up there with the likes of Napoleon or Marqueis de Sade (That’s right. The guy so twisted and cruel we had to invent the word ‘sadist’ just aptly describe his fucked-uppery doesn’t have SHIT on my boy, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille). In fact, he’s so bad that on page two his mom tries killing his infant ass right after birth but Grenouille wasn’t about that life. He screamed his ass off until somebody finds him and gets his own mom executed for it. Yep, already two minutes old and he’s already got enemies AND a body count.
But that’s not even all. Grenouille just won’t die and not without a lack of effort on other characters’ part: The orphans at his orphanage try killing him, the harsh environment of peasant life in 18th century France try killing him, EVEN SMALL POX AND ANCIENT FATAL VIRAL DISEASE CALLED ANTHRAX TRIED KILLING HIM. But Grenouille ain’t shook. Suskind lovingly refers to his main character as a tick but it’s honestly the only way you can describe this motherfucker. He’s so subhuman that he don’t even have a human scent which is the entire premise of the book. Grenouille, whose name is French for frog, is the antithesis of everything human: He doesn’t know love, he doesn’t know how to die, hell he doesn’t even have his own stench. But check it. That don’t stop him from having the superhuman ability to identify every single stench that ever stunk and figuratively collect, bottle and store any and all smells into his imaginative castle of odors.
So what does he do with this remarkable ability?
He kills two dozen virgins in order to cultivate their scent, bottle up their essences, turns that shit into a wearable fragrance and sprinkles it onto himself so he can hypnotize people AND RULE THE FUCKING FRENCH.
That’s not even the half of the plot right there. This book has everything sick and terrifying you can imagine: It’s got infanticide, freaked out midwives, demon-seeing priests, long highly detailed passages of the 18th century process for distilling perfumes, murder, fraud, paragraphs dedicated to esoteric historical information, genius, hard-to-pronounce French locations, exploitation of genius, a mad scientist, pseudoscientific theories on how human feces is affected at different altitudes (I swear to god I’m not making this up), false imprisonment, mass hysteria, prejudice against gypsies and Italians, an almost public execution scene, a public orgy AND lastly, suicide—by cannibalism.
Hell there’s a part where Grenouille is so fed up with smelling humans that he goes off the grid for seven years, lives in a cave and survives by sucking water off of moss and feasting on frozen crows. BECAUSE WHY THE FUCK NOT?
Of course all of this is just background information to the real plot of the story and that is, spoiler alert, the fleeting realm of smell. Page after glorious page of the most beautifully written pieces on the basic yet profoundly indescribable trait of the human scent.
Now look me in the screen and name another novel that’s plot is FOCUSED ON THE 18TH CENTURY PERFUMING INDUSTRY AND THE VARIOUS SYSTEMS THAT THE GUILDS USED IN CREATING PERFUME.
Yeah that’s what I thought.
NOW GO HOME, ORDER THIS SHIT ON AMAZON AND ACCEPT PATRICK SÜSKIND AS YOUR NEW LITERARY GOD.