Jitterbug Perfume: Tom Robbins

Thanks to Martin from the The Book Forum (presently, Book reader forum or some such thing), I tried Tom Robbins. I like reading light, humor books in between heavy ones. I use it as a kind of a filler. I was pleasantly surprised by the book which I took up on Martin’s recommendation. ‘Jitterbug Perfume’ by Tom Robbins is an absolute pleasure to read.

Apart from the teeny-weeny detail that the book is humor in theme, I had no idea what the book was about. I didn’t read the back cover (I usually don’t) and I didn’t have a clue about the story. But (probably true for most of Robbins’s books) story is secondary in this book. What amazes you, shocks you and hits you right across your face is the language, the style and the author’s wonderful sense of humor. The story, though secondary, needs to be mentioned here for the sake of completion.

Alobar wants to be immortal. Not exactly, but he feels he should have the right to choose the time of his death. When he is contented with his life, when he thinks he has lived enough and done all the things he had wanted to, then he wants to die. He meets a beautiful lady (Indian, by the way) Kudra who also thinks more or less on the same lines. It’s their story and the people they meet as they travel through their looooooong journey of life. Just how long? Well, read the book.

Coming to the exciting part. Robbins’s language, his style and his wit is something I haven’t seen anywhere else. The story showcases his imagination too, but this skill is shadowed by his other one. A person who can interconnect immortality, perfume, a dying God with a nose-wrenching odor and beet is creative enough, but to tell this story in a way that the reader can’t afford to miss even a single word from his book, lest he miss the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) humor, is worth applauding.

When I was reading the book, I was particularly stuck by one or two lines which I wanted to mention in the review. But, now when I open the book again to find those lines, I find every other line funny enough to be mentioned here. At this rate, I will have to reproduce the whole book!

For anybody who likes the subtle, soft humor of P.G.Wodehouse, it’s likely that they will like Tom Robbins. No, I am not comparing these two. All I am saying is that the readers need to intelligent to understand the humor and if an intelligent reader enjoys interpreting Wodehouse’s humor, then they will certainly enjoy Robbins’ wild wit. Beware, his humor is not so subtle at times.

4 Responses to “Jitterbug Perfume: Tom Robbins”

  1. Jacob Says:

    Everyone should read this author’s work. He constructs each and every sentence as its own work of art. Try “Still Life with a Woodpecker” next, or “Skinny Legs and All”. But stay away from his last one, it wasn’t so good.

  2. generally Says:

    Thanks for the suggestion, Jacob. I have his ‘Skinny legs and all’ on my list.

    Do you know any other author who has a similar style of writing? Robbins’s style took me completely by surprise and I am wondering if anyone else writes like him.

  3. Curt Milton Says:

    Good morning!

    I thought you might be interested in a new piece of fiction by Tom Robbins that is appearing in our paper, the Seattle P-I, this morning. Here’s the link: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/writers/317083_writer25.html

    There are also video clips from Robbins’ appearance before the P-I staff. Spread the word!

    Curt Milton
    Seattle Post-Intelligencer
    Phone: 206-448-8019
    Fax: 206-448-8193

  4. generally Says:

    Thanks for the link, Curt. I will definitely have a look at it.

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