Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

This evening I finished reading the novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, by Patrick Süskind. It's the most repulsive book I've read in years. This requires, of course, no small measure of literary talent - but even so, this does not mean that a repulsive book is a good book, any more than the fact of a murderer being talented makes the murderer a good person.

This is a bad book. Not because it's full of disgustingness; a book can be full of disgustingness for entirely valid purposes. The way that this book describes murder in extremely graphic detail and utter emotionless is disgusting, but that does not make it a bad book. It merely reveals that the writer is skillful at portraying the mind of a criminal - which does not make the book a good book, either.

This is a bad book because the entire book is based upon a premise that what humans call "love" is nothing but sexual instinct; that a sexual desire that drives people to murder the object of their desire is every bit as much worthy of the name of "love" as anything else in this loveless world; that with the right pheromones applied to his brain, even the most loving of fathers can be rendered madly in love with the very person who he knows murdered his daughter; that there is no such thing in all the world as real human compassion or choosing to care about another person's happiness; that all such feelings of what people call love are nothing but the involuntary chemical reactions to sexual pheromones.

In other words, this book is the diametric opposite of me. Of queer by choice. Of the entire broader worldview within which queer by choice ideas are capable of arising.

A good book is a book in which literary talent is used to reveal truths about the world. This book is a very, very bad book, because it is a book in which literary talent is instead used to tell lies about the world. This is a book like a beautiful mansion whose walls turn out to be made of corrugated cardboard and built on a foundation of papier-mâché. This is a book that looks gorgeous at a glance but crumbles to pieces when its underlying assumptions are examined.

I'm going to hold this book by the very edge of two fingertips and try not to get any of its repulsiveness on my hands when I put it onto my bookshelf. rekraft, the fact that I read this book is your fault! You owe me a good book recommendation to make up for this.
Tags: books
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