Thumbs up for Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. Nonfiction.
Let me be upfront: I have not found any smell that I prefer over normal human scent for more than five minutes at a stretch. When I can smell someone’s perfume, my usual response is to back away; even if the smell is pleasant, it feels like being forced to listen to a stranger’s playlist. So of course this begs the question of why I would be reading a 380-page book that consists of nothing but perfume reviews. The answer is: because a guy named Chandler Burr once wrote two magnificent books. One was called The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York and was about making perfumes; the other was called The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession and it is the best (if also most heartbreaking) book about the process of science that I have ever read. The eponymous Emperor is the co-author of this book, Luca Turin, so of course I leapt upon it when it came under my (pun fully intended) nose. And I was not disappointed. Perfumes: The Guide contains the best descriptions (of anything) I have ever read. These are one-paragraph reviews at a level to which I can only aspire: evocative, whimsical, cutting, opinionated, confessional, crisp, bemused, digressive, deeply knowledgable, and laugh-out-loud hilarious. There were not ten, not twenty, but a hundred exerpts I wanted to share with you. At last I had to choose one:
Amarige (Givenchy) [one star] killer tuberose
We nearly gave it four stars: the soapy-green tobacco-tuberose accord Dominique Ropion designed for Amarige is unmissable, unmistakable, and unforgettable. However, it is also truly loathsome, perceptible even at parts-per-billion levels, and at all times incompatible with others’ enjoyment of food, music, sex, and travel. If you are reading this because it is your darling fragrance, please wear it at home exclusively, and tape the windows shut. LT
If you enjoyed this post, please share it!