My Monday: Jitterbug Perfume

As promised, I’m going to do something a little different on Mondays for a while. I’m going to hope that you’ll indulge me as I share some of my golden oldies, my personal favourites, the books on my bookshelf whose covers are most likely falling off their fronts…

Tonight’s pick as an object is certainly looking a little worse for wear, but only because it is so well loved. It’s my copy of Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume, my number one.

I’m a big fan of Robbins, as anyone who knows me can attest to, but this book is by far my favourite.

“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.”

In my opinion, Jitterbug Perfume is Robbin’s best written novel, and the story is absolutely magical. The storytelling itself is complex and quirky (as you might expect) and the tale is visceral, romantic, sexed-up and beautifully mythical. And, of course, in true Robbin’s style it’s just a little bit ridiculous.

The novel is about Alobar and Kundra’s search for eternal youth, and at the same time about Priscilla’s pursuit of the perfect fragrance. And, let’s be blunt, it’s about lust. It’s about Pan, and funk and sex all around. It was quite an education, reading this book as a teenage girl, I can tell you.

To be honest, I don’t think I’ve stopped looking for that embossed blue bottle in every op shop and flea market I’ve visited since reading this book. Many years ago now, I actually bought a tiny little bottle, with a stopper on a string that very nearly matched the description, opening it from time to time in the hope of a hint of Jasmine.

I know it’s random, but I still wish that I liked beets (the true hero of this story) just a little bit more than I do and even after all these years I’m fairly sure I’ve still got a crush on King Alobar.

As with many of his novels, Robbins’ skilfully intertwines four distinct stories in this epic – their connection being revealed slowly throughout the novel. It’s a most satisfying read and you really come to feel for the characters and their personal quests, no matter how far-fetched they may seem.

All of Tom Robbins’ books are worth reading, Still Life with Woodpecker is super-cheeky and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues is probably the best place to start if you’ve not read Robbins’ before. This said, as I mentioned earlier, Jitterbug Perfume is by far my favourite and the one I keep going back to.

What’s your cheeky favourite book?

Buy your own copy of Jitterbug Perfume at the TBYL Store!

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathy Petkoff
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 06:31:34

    My heart sang with joy that you began your ‘My Monday’ with Jitterbug Perfume. I found another Tom Robbins lover in an old dear friend, after 30 odd years of knowing one another! Jitterbug is my second fav Tom Robbins. My personal fav is ‘Still Life with Woodpecker’ – being a redhead, the idea that I was created from sugar and lust is pretty magical! For quirky reads, Tom is always top of the list I’d recommend, followed soon after by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I also remember receiving a birthday gift from you that was a second hand and loved copy of ‘Half asleep in frog pajamas’….. Thanks for making me smile today….. Ah Tom……


    • That Book You Like
      Oct 10, 2011 @ 06:43:58

      Thanks so much for your comment Kathy, I’m so pleased you liked my pick 🙂 It sounds a bit like all of Tom’s novels get a big tick really!

      I’ve not read any Kurt Vonnegut Jr, I’ll have to check it out.

      Big cheers my redheaded friend


  2. Dale
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 17:09:22

    Thanks for the Tom Robbins love note,. I think I’ll reread Jitterbug Perfume again.

    My favorite Robbins book and indeed favorite novel of any kind is Another Roadside Attraction. It was my first love in the cosmic humour genre. Hey, I guess that’s how you make love stay…you buy a book you love.


    • That Book You Like
      Oct 11, 2011 @ 21:08:13

      Dale – you’ve worked it out! So wonderful 🙂

      I love Another Roadside Attraction too, I should re-read that one when I get a chance. It’s funny how some books just stay with you once you’ve read them. All Robbin’s seems to have got in my head and come to mind so often (even after all these years) and Another Roadside Attraction does that even more than some others. Perfect!


  3. Trackback: All hail, King Otto « That Book You Like…

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