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Jitterbug Perfume

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Jitterbug PerfumeI loved this book, but it’s taken me a year to figure out why. Sure, the writing was good – a more lit-y than the genre fic I usually read, something I had to chew and savor instead of swallowing down like cotton candy (which is NOT to say that genre is always cotton candy … but I LIKE cotton candy reading). The narrative itself swept me up and held me (although it took a little bit for me to get into it, I admit). I really liked the main character. I liked the way he talked about sex.  I thought it was enormously creative. Reading it made me feel light and alive.

And yet I would normally give something four stars that had all of those things. Five stars, saying, “I loved it,” needs something more. Something which is unique to my reading of it, instead of everyone else’s. A person reason. I just realized what it is.

I have read a bunch of fiction that plays with Greek Myths, from The Penelopiad and The King Must Die to The Lightning Thief and Roman Blood. I often enjoy these books, but I am almost always frustrated by them as well. The problem is that making Greek myths relevant and interesting often decontextualizes them so much that they lose what makes them truly meaningful and timeless. Of course, there are NEW ideas that have the potential for deep meaning as well, but I always grumble to myself, why did they have to erase the original meaning to do it?!

This book does not erase the original meaning of anything. It does not attempt, to explain the original meanings in their depth. Instead, it seems to simply celebrate that they WERE meaningful. But [author: Tom Robbins] doesn’t stop there. He examines history. How meaning (and identity) grows over time. How it lives. And in doing so he brings the ancient Greek characters to life again. Forever. Yay!

I recommend this book for Classicists who don’t like retellings of mythology; people interested in religion; anyone who likes good stories.


Comments

One response to “Jitterbug Perfume”

  1. I’d recommend any Tom Robbins book. He’s in my top 5 favorites. If you haven’t read it, I’d suggest perusing “Skinny Legs and All.” It’a a much longer book that Jitterbug and can be challenging to get into (like all Robbins books are imo), but it is quite worth it. This one involves Salome, a conch shell, a sock, a spoon and a can. 😀

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