Jitterbug Perfume

Paperback | April 1, 1990

byTom Robbins

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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.

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From Our Editors

Robbins calls Jitterbug Perfume "an epic". It is also a saga, and a saga must have a hero. 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 great-horned god. Some people actually believe that the liquid in the bottle is--the secret essence of the universe

From the Publisher

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 esse...

From the Jacket

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 esse...

Tom Robbins has been called “a vital natural resource” by The Oregonian, “one of the wildest and most entertaining novelists in the world” by the Financial Times of London, and “the most dangerous writer in the world today” by Fernanda Pivano of Italy’s Corriere della Sera. A Southerner by birth, Robbins has lived in and around Seattle since 1962.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8.2 × 5.2 × 0.7 inPublished:April 1, 1990Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0553348981

ISBN - 13:9780553348989

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Yes! This had been on my to-read list for a while. It’s a crazy and enjoyable ride through the centuries, tying together an interesting cast of characters who all want to create the ideal perfume. To me, this is like a fairy tale for adults. I was continually impressed with Robbins’ unique and lush descriptions.
Date published: 2014-11-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Yes! This is Tom Robbins at his best. It's a journey through lands, centuries, mythical places all told with the wit which Tom Robbins is known for. Meet Pan the god and other amazing characters. I keep this book to re-read whenever I start to take life to seriously.
Date published: 2014-06-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from First Tom Robbins book that I've read It was my first Tom Robbins book that I read and while I do agree that he is very talented, this was definitely not my cup of tea.  It was a long and heavy read. I liked how there were simultaneous storylines that intersected but it was a little painful to read in my opinion. I was happy with the ending and it made it worthwhile, but to be honest the only reason I kept reading this book was because I had already invested so much time into reading it already.   Also, call me old fashioned, but I was not really in to all of the wild, tribal, explicit adventures of the characters...
Date published: 2013-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A real work of art I adore Tom Robbins. I think his writing is genius, and it is clear to me that "Jitterbug Perfume" is one of the best books ever written during our century. Robbins has a way of rolling words on a page that recalls Shakespeare's talent, in that he exposes the nakedness of a person's deepest self without flinching, and at the same time, stirs our deepest, hidden emotions. This book is a powerful blend of power, religion, mirth, and spirit.
Date published: 2008-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Funny, smart and sexy I end up re-reading this book about twice a year because it is such a wonderfully intertwined, wacky and uplifting story. Waitresses ARE geniuses and scent is the secret to longevity...right??
Date published: 2006-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from from beasts to beauty robbins is always challenging us to explore the rich world of his mind and connect it to our reality. anyone with a passion for gardening and who finds scent erotic should read this book, if only to justify their joys in life.
Date published: 2004-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Voyeristic The novel I thought explored religion, history, and philosophy, well. It was entertainig as well as uplifting. It is a great bedside novel to read, especially on vacation.
Date published: 2001-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Robbins Marvel. This musk read is again, top quality story telling from a man with a masters in discriptive manipulation. The characters dynamic nature make it a real racing romp in aromatic bugary!
Date published: 2001-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favorite book! This was my first Tom Robbins book and it hooked me into reading them all. Tom Robbins has a way of bastardizing a myth or religion and mixing it up with the latest flakey new age craze to create a whole new insane belief that's so connected, it may just be true. Do you want to live forever?
Date published: 2000-12-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not one of Tom Robbins' best I have read five of Tom Robbins books before I got to this one. Every other one of his books were excellent from start to finish. This one, though, while starting strong with the Seattle clips, started losing my interest as it quickly and consistently jumped from four locales / time periods (though it eventually tied them all together, but not before it took its toll on me mentally). The whole New Orleans piece of the story could have been dropped without being noticed, as it was often short and uneventful. The Alobar account was most lenghty and fairly interesting, though the Pan portions became quite boring with unnecessary banter. The lack of locale consistency really hurt the flow of the plot, and did not lend to cohesion of the story. However, the immortality idea was explored well during Alobar's part of the story, and Kudra was a fine supporting character.
Date published: 2000-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I plan on living forever My brother left this book for me after leaving for his last trip. It's a truly excellent tale of man's search to be an individual, and transcend life itself. The writing is excellent.. a page turner, if I ever saw one - I want to read it again, just so I can jot down some of the memorable lines to use as something extra to get the day started.
Date published: 2000-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Jitterbug Perfume I found this book to be excellent. The immortalist theme kept me very interested and it was also a very good love story. The techniques described for gaining immortality are very close to reality. Tom Robbins has a very good sense of humour which provided me with several good giggles.
Date published: 1999-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Jitterbug Perfume Travelling through time, from medieval Europe to present-day New Orleans, we follow the lives of Alobar and Kudran as they search for the elixir of life - the only true way to live forever. This is a story that has two plot lines: the degeneration of Pan, the half-man, half-goat lute player caused by a decreasing of his followers, as well as the search for the secret ingredient in K23, a mysterious scent in a bottle that was found on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. A wacky novel that takes you on an adventure through time and religion - and on the search for the perfect taco.
Date published: 1999-05-06

Extra Content

Read from the Book

The citadel was dark, and the heroes were sleeping. When they breathed, it sounded as if they were testing the air for dragon smoke.On their sofas of spice and feathers, the concubines also slept fretfully. In those days, the earth was till flat, and people dreamed often of falling over edges.Blacksmiths hammered the Edge Serpent on the anvils of their closed eyelids. Wheelwrights rolled it, tail in mouth, down the cart roads of their slumber. Cooks roasted it in dream pits, seamstresses sewed it to the badge hides that covered them, the court necromancer traced its contours in the constellation of straw on which he tossed. Only the babes in the nursery lay peacefully, passive even to the fleas that supped on their tenderness.King Alobar did not sleep well at all. He was as awake as the guards at the gate. More awake, actually, for the guards mused dreamily about mead, boiled beets, and captive women as their eyes patrolled the forested horizon, while the king was as conscious as an unsheathed knife; coldly conscious and warmly troubled. Beside him, inside the ermine blankets, his great hound, Mik, and his wife, Alma, snoozed the night away, oblivious to their lord's distress. Well, let them snore, for neither the dog's tongue, not the wife's could lap the furrows from his brow, although he had sent for Alma that evening mainly because of her tongue. Alma's mouth, freshly outlined with beet paint, was capable of locking him in a carnal embrace that while it endured forbade any thoughts of the coils beyond the brink. Alas, but it could endure for so long, and no sooner was Alma hiccuping the mushroom scent of his spurt than he was regretting his choice. He should have summoned Wren, his favorite wife, for though Wren lacked Alma's special sexual skills, she knew his heart. He could confide in Wren without fear that his disclosures would be woven into common gossip on the concubines' looms.Alobar's castle, which in fact was a simple fort of stone and wood surrounded by a fence of tree trunks, contained treasures, not the least of which was a slab of polished glass that had come all the way from Egypt to show the king his face. The concubines adored this magic glass, and Alobar, whose face was so obscured by whiskers that its reflection offered a minimum of contemplative reward, was content to leave it in their quarters, where they would spend hours each day gazing at the wonders that it reproduced. Once, a very young concubine named Frol had dropped the mirror, breaking off a corner of it. The council had wanted to banish her to the forest, where wolves or warriors from a neighboring domain might suck her bones, but Alobar had intervened, limiting her punishment to thirty lashes. Later, when her wounds had healed, she bore him fine twin sons. From that time on, however, the king visited the harem each new moon to make sure the looking glass had not lost its abilities.Now, on this day, the new moon of the calendar we know as September, when Alobar conducted his routine inspection, he looked into the mirror longer, more intently than usual. Something in the secrets and shadows of the imperfectly polished surface caught his eye. He stared, and as he stared his pulse began to run away with itself. He carried the glass to an open window, where refracting sparks of sunshine enlivened its ground but refused to alter its message. "So soon?" he whispered, as he tilted the mirror. Another angle, the same result. Perhaps the glass is tricking me, he thought. Magic things are fond of deceptions. Although the day was rather balmy, he pulled up the hood of his rough linen cloak and, blushing like blood's rich uncle, thrust the mirror into the hands of the nearest concubine, who happened to be Frol. The other women gasped. They rushed to relieve her of the precious object. Alobar left the room.With some difficulty, for others tried to insist on accompanying him, the king excused himself from court and took the giant dog Mik for a romp outside the citadel gate. Circuitously, he made his way into the woods to a spring he knew. There, he fell to his knees and bent close to the water, as if to drink. Smothered under a swirl of cloudy mixtures, his reflection only spasmodically came into focus. Yet, among the bubbles, twigs, and jumbled particles of light and color, he saw it once more: a hair as white as the snow that a swan has flown over. It spiraled from his right temple.Undirected—and unencumbered—by thought, King Alobar's hand shot out as if to ward off an enemy's blow. He yanked the hair from its mooring, examined it as one might examine a killed snake, and, after glancing over his shoulder to assure that none save Mik was his witness, flicked it into the spring, in whose waters it twisted and twirled for a long time before sinking out of sight.