Author: Patrick Süskind

Short Story Review – The Pigeon by Patrick Süskind

March 1, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2012, Short Stories 1 Comment

Short Story Review – The Pigeon by Patrick SüskindThe Pigeon by Patrick Süskind
Published by Penguin Books on May 12, 1988
Pages: 96
Genres: Literary Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

five-stars

Set in Paris and attracting comparisons with Franz Kafka and Edgar Allan Poe, "The Pigeon" is Patrick Suskind's tense, disturbing follow-up to the bestselling "Perfume". The novella tells the story of a day in the meticulously ordered life of bank security guard, Jonathan Noel, who has been hiding from life since his wife left him for her Tunisian lover. When Jonathan opens his front door on a day he believes will be just like any other, he encounters not the desired empty hallway but an unwelcome, diabolical intruder...

‘At the time the pigeon affair overtook him, unhinging his life from one day to the next, Jonathan Noel, already past fifty, could look back over a good twenty-year period of total uneventfulness and would never have expected anything of importance could ever overtake him again – other than death some day.’

‘The Pigeon’ is an incredibly short story detailing a day (albeit a rather momentous day) in the life of Jonathan Noel. Jonathan leads a secluded and private life as a bank security guard in Paris. He enjoys the life he has made for himself and is perfectly content with it continuing as such for his remaining years; however, on his way to work one morning this all comes collapsing down around him as he discovers a pigeon on his front porch. As soon as the pigeon entered his life, his life literally came crumbling apart in his mind. All of his carefully made plans became as fragile as a snowflake.

‘…but he suddenly no longer saw himself – that is, he no longer saw himself as a part of the world surrounding him. It was rather, as if for a few seconds he were standing far away, outside it, and were regarding this world through the wrong end of a telescope.’

I became an instant fan of Patrick Süskind after stumbling upon his novel ‘Pefume’. It left such a permanent imprint on me and is still one of my favorite books to date. I’m not sure why I never looked into whether or not he had any additional works, but after embarking on my ‘1001 Books to Read Before I Die’ reading challenge I discovered ‘The Pigeon’ as one of those 1001. Overjoyed, I knew I had to have it.

Patrick Süskind’s writing is so thoroughly impressionable that earlier this afternoon I saw a pigeon on the side of the road and had to suppress a shiver as Jonathan’s fears flooded my mind. Mildly amusing, but, I’m not sure I’ll be able to look at a pigeon the same again. His descriptions of the pigeon and Jonathan’s instant anxiety over the pigeon were immediately understandable even though, looking at the bigger picture, it seemed as if he made a fuss over nothing. I’ll admit, I laughed at first because it seemed quite absurd, but as the story progressed you can see now it’s not just the pigeon that affected poor Jonathan in that manner; it was just the catalyst to a series of events that disrupted his painstakingly normal existence.

I’m giving ‘The Pigeon’ 5 stars for one reason and one reason only (and it’s not because it’s as great a story as Perfume because it isn’t): because he’s a truly amazing writer. I will read anything written by Patrick Süskind. It’s just such a shame that there aren’t more novels of his in existence to read.

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Book Review – Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

August 9, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 1 Comment

Book Review – Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick SüskindPerfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind
Published by Penguin Books on September 12, 1986
Pages: 272
Genres: Classics, Horror, Literary Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Pigeon

five-stars

The year is 1738; the place, Paris. A baby is born under a fish-monger’s bloody table in a marketplace, and abandoned. Orphaned, passed over to the monks as a charity case, already there is something in the aura of the tiny infant that is unsettling. No one will look after him; he is somehow too demanding, and, even more disturbing, something is missing: as his wet nurse tries to explain, he doesn’t smell the way a baby should smell; indeed, he has no scent at all.

Slowly, as we watch Jean-Baptiste Grenouille cling stubbornly to life, we begin to realize that a monster is growing before our eyes. With mounting unease, yet hypnotized, we see him explore his powers and their effect on the world around him. For this dark and sinister boy who has no smell himself possesses an absolute sense of smell, and with it he can read the world to discover the hidden truths that elude ordinary men. He can smell the very composition of objects, and their history, and where they have been, he has no need of the light, and darkness is not dark to him, because nothing can mask the odors of the universe.

As he leaves childhood behind and comes to understand his terrible uniqueness, his obsession becomes the quest to identify, and then to isolate, the most perfect scent of all, the scent of life itself.

At first, he hones his powers, learning the ancient arts of perfume-making until the exquisite fragrances he creates are the rage of Paris, and indeed Europe. Then, secure in his mastery of these means to an end, he withdraws into a strange and agonized solitude, waiting, dreaming, until the morning when he wakes, ready to embark on his monstrous quest: to find and extract from the most perfect living creatures—the most beautiful young virgins in the land— that ultimate perfume which alone can make him, too, fully human. As his trail leads him, at an ever-quickening pace, from his savage exile to the heart of the country and then back to Paris, we are caught up in a rising storm of terror and mortal sensual conquest until the frenzy of his final triumph explodes in all its horrifying consequences.

Told with dazzling narrative brilliance and the haunting power of a grown-up fairy tale, Perfume is one of the most remarkable novels of the last fifty years.

‘Perfume’ tells the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille a boy who grew up on the streets of Paris. Jean-Baptiste was no ordinary boy, he had a gift… a sense of smell that could not be rivaled. Naturally he found his niche by becoming an apprentice to a master perfumer who teaches him the art of making perfume. He excelled at this and people were scrambling to buy his product. As he branched out and started searching for new scents to include in his perfumes, his fascination with trying to find the “ultimate perfume” takes a morbid turn when he finds that ultimate scent is coming from a beautiful woman, and he has to capture it by any means necessary.

I picked this book up on a whim at a used bookstore one day simply thinking that I’d like to read something different for a change. ‘Perfume’ managed to root itself so deep in my mind that I still remember this novel in vivid detail to this day; I must have read it at least ten years ago. The story is disturbing in so many ways yet so unbelievably brilliant and fascinating that you can’t help but be enthralled.

The novel is extremely graphic at times but that’s what really makes the story. Highly recommended, I love this novel it’s one of my absolute favorites.

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