At the start of Jitterbug Perfume, on the page in between the dedication and the start of the saga, the author included four quotes. These quotes seem strange in proximity with each other, but they tell you a great deal about the journey you are about to embark on and I felt the need to include them here.
“The distinctive human problem from time immemorial has been the need to spiritualize human life, to lift it onto a special immortal plane, beyond the cycles of life and death that characterize all other organisms.”
– Ernest Becker
“The history of civilization is the story of man’s emancipation from a lot that was harsh, brutish, and short. every step of that upward climb to a sophisticated way of life has been paralleled by a corresponding advance in the art of perfumery.”
– Eric Maple
“Rage, rage against the dying of the light”
– Dylan Thomas
“(And) always smell as nice as possible.”
– Lynda Barry
This tale takes place in four “locations” – or points in time, I should say. Present-day Seattle, New Orleans, Paris, and ancient Bohemia – and follows the characters in each of these places as their lives eventually converge.
It begins in ancient Bohemia, where a king named Alobar longs to escape his fate, which is that upon the growth of his first gray hair – a symbol of aging – he will be killed and replaced.
“In those days the Earth was still flat, and people dreamed often of falling over edges.”
“Upon those travelers who make their way without maps or guides, there breaks a wave of exhilaration with each unexpected change of plans.”
“The sky was a velvety black paw pressing on the white landscape with a feline delicacy, stars flying like sparks from its fur.”
“The eclipse…it was probably the most real thing I’ve ever seen, but it was also like a dream. You know what I mean? Real and unreal, beautiful and strange, like a dream. It got me high as a kite, but it didn’t last long enough. It ended too soon and left nothing behind.”
“Bones are patient. Bones never tire nor do they run away… Water is like flesh. Water will not stand still. It is always off to somewhere else; restless, talkative, and curious. Even water in a covered jar will disappear in time. Flesh is water. Stones are like bones. Satisfied. Patient. Dependable.”
“Perhaps the most terrible (or wonderful) thing that can happen to an imaginative youth, aside from the curse (or blessing) of imagination itself, is to be exposed without preparation to the life outside his or her own sphere – the sudden revelation that there is a there out there.”
click on images for sources.
are you guys reading along? leave your thoughts in the comments!